Poetry: “Two Rooms” by Nels Hanson

“Are the living happier than

the dead?” children wonder

when they turn over a scarlet


brick and find a lost Atlantis.

There the worms are dragons

who tell explorers soon they’ll


die in a single second on some

certain day so the scene shifts

to summer, a doctor’s packed


waiting room. The shadow is

too deep, night itself emerges

from darkening leaves whose


emerald hides darkness behind

a secret door. A brightest toy

ages to the amber of October,


before the parted lips can sing

a ghostly someone recalls and

hums the old tune. My young


father’s brown hair was white

with dust from the drywall’s

spackled nail heads he sanded


and my young mother smiled

then said, “At 50 you’re going

to be so handsome!” I heard it


through glass, gazing at newest

room of the new house already

ancient, felt a wave of cresting


evening I couldn’t stop or slow,

July ditch water racing down

furrows to a shadeless winter.


Above me two mourning doves

in a cherry tree sang words they

had by heart when shells broke


and spines grew to feathers for

wings though in tall air blue as

heaven there was nowhere to fly.


Nels Hanson grew up on a small farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California and has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart nominations in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. His poems received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize, and 2015 and 2016 Best of the Net nominations.