by Nels Hanson

That palest azure you yearn to reach, tallest
Sierra citadel where heaven is, the river on

its true course you can follow to any ocean,
sail for island circled by emerald banks of

cloud, the cherry tree forever in bloom, one
season only after the long tilting of our Earth,

seeds sprouting unafraid of winter, a buried
treasure chest of doubloons become golden

suns worth more than pirates know, in silent
column each lost dog returning and the poor

children without coats in fog-bound freezing
San Joaquin now kings and queens arrayed

in finery, all royals bowing to one another as
ancient stars align in new constellations, Big

and Little Bear forming a single kind animal,
moon close enough to touch her risen auburn

cheek, the Rabbit pounding harder his elixir
of immortal life while deep undersea scarlet,

saffron, purple starfish arrange perfectly in
interlocking rings Saturn took for granted so

long, great whale breaching with its spouted
plume, raised flukes, jaws open past baleen

inviting older Jonah to emerge, ride westerly
swift humpback guarded by leaping dolphins

to the whirlpool, at center watery tower from
blue Atlantis the passenger climbs high until

ice-capped lesser Himalayan peaks and great
Everest disappear as dawn’s rooster wakes you

to discover featherless wings, the naked arms
too weak to lift a heart nostalgic for the sky.

Musical composition by Victor David Sandiego

Nels Hanson has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart Prize nominations in 2010, 12, and 2014. Poems appeared in Word Riot, Oklahoma Review, Pacific Review and other magazines and received Sharkpack Review Annual’s 2014 Prospero Prize and a 2014 Pushcart nomination.