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Nels Hanson

Baby Steps

If I do three or four small things each day I

think I’ll be all right. Water the four o’clocks

with poison seeds like peppercorns, the scarlet


hibiscus raising yellow stamens, white-starred

Madagascar jasmine, the orange out of bloom

still smelling sweet. Sweep and mop the laminate


and the kitchen’s white squares of tile. Write a

check, stamp the envelope to keep the lights on.

Wash and mix pale garbanzos, blood-dark kidney


beans, the cold rice vinegar clear lymph. You’re

tired, that’s enough for now: Lunch made, thirsty

roots slaked and reassured, floors clean as unused


china. The TV will play its tragic news, at night

the lamp will burn when my thumb and finger turn its

switch, this room will shine as if a log were kindled.

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.

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