Portrait

Portrait
by Nels Hanson

Once in a turning October orchard of
Castlebrite apricots I stared into one
head-high mottled heart-shaped leaf
that stared back a waxy stark orange, 
amber and at its heart a stranger rich
magenta from some painter’s palette
spreading nearly purple, mixed red
and blue but neither color, the shade
a failing season discovers and dying
year allows exposed in faded green,
deepening each colder night until at
last a stem lets go, finally like a leaf
something changed in me is falling—
Late December pruning bare scarlet
branches for distant spring blooms,
emerald leaves and far ripe fruit red-
yellow and fiery as setting summer
suns I see cut dormant brush aslant
dark loam trace a signature, portrait
signed by a dwindling, culminating
leaf of my autumn becoming winter. 
Issue 06
from 20.00
 
 

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