The Turning Year
Modesto ash and the maple catch fire,
saffron and scarlet, the liquid amber
orange and blue, sun falling to the sea.
Ditch water still as sky at last captures
gray clouds, shadow of passing birds.
The morning’s first autumn frost turned
the grass white and old. At evening quail
roost in the hedge, yellow light from our
window warming the dark leaves. Soon
the cold rain falls on bare vineyards and
black stumps tired from the harvest cling
to their stakes and long wires. Now tule
fog returns, a lost uncle home again with
his poverty and gloom, stories of winter.
Small animals who all summer grew fat
go underground to burrows lined with dry
shells of seeds, to sleep, dream of sun on
new fur, a springtime hiding in a tunnel.
Nels Hanson grew up on a small raisin and tree fruit farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California, earned degrees from U.C. Santa Cruz and the U of Montana, 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. He lives with his wife Vicki on California’s Central Coast.