Welcome to Montana • Nels Hanson

Snow-streaked scarps north and east
hold the valley under the Big Sky,
yellow plain cut blue by curving

river like a trail. The basin filled
with morning light and gilded ice
on the far peaks makes a portrait,

“Western Vista,” doorway back
to Eden. The land was once a lake,
V’s of duck and Canadian geese

planing down in mile-long lines,
vanished sentences across a virgin
sky. Buffalo-hide teepees painted red

and orange, suns and moons, cluster
where again spires rise, cooking fires
and smoking racks. Gaze just right

you’ll see them move, gesturing
in deerskin, tall eagle feathers, before
white eyes burn them and they disappear.


Nels Hanson's fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and stories have appeared in Antioch Review, Texas Review, Black Warrior Review, Southeast Review, Montreal Review, and other journals. Poems have appeared in Big Moon, Language and Culture, Angelfire, Symmetry Pebbles.