Two Rivers

By Nels Hanson

Nights, warm still summer Valley dark

unlit by wary farmers’ mercury lamps

touched so easily, supple second skin

as green fields after burning day softly

breathed pure oxygen, plum and peach

orchards and vineyards nearly bearing

lowest stars at flatland’s round horizon

arching the near black dome and every

constellation holding its one clear place,

each fitting puzzle piece children made

out in curved sky’s perfect jigsaw. Old

heroes, hunters, beast, all famous lovers

we could point and name if beyond two

Dippers, Orion, Pleiades we knew their

names as far eastward watching farmers

5,000 years before our San Joaquin, wide

valley called “Land Between Rivers” by

Greeks, the ancient Tigris and Euphrates.

Nels Hanson has worked as a farmer, teacher, and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award, Pushcart Prize nominations in 2010, 2012, and 2014, and has appeared in Antioch Review, Black Warrior Review, Southeast Review, and other journals. Poems appeared in Word Riot, Oklahoma Review, Pacific Review, and other magazines, and are in press at Sharkpack Review Annual, The Straddler, Stoneboat, Meat for Tea, Insert Lit Mag Here, and The Mad Hatter’s Review. Poems in Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine and Citron Review have been nominated for 2014 Pushcart Prizes.