The poetry of William Scott Hanna

A Blossom

Since you nearly died
after only three days,
I cannot think of the dawn
and not think of you
in the same light,
or of a blossom newly bursting,
dogwood pink, redbud purple,
or cherry white,
blooming into its own age,
its moment of ripening,
its final silent
flittering descent.

Something so weightless,
even has weight.

Like your tiny hand
on mine,
soft and heavy
as a petal flipping
through spring wind.

Since you nearly died
after only three days,
I’m okay
with not knowing.
I’m okay
with the unanswered,
with giving everything,
as a blossom offers up
all its weightlessness.
And I’m okay
that meaning can be
as lucid as water,
or as complex as your eyes
reflecting back into mine
a blueness shared by blood,
or as certain as the light
of each dawn
bringing one less day,
one less moment,
one more blossom,
opening, ripening,
and falling.

 

 

New Orleans from Here

Having lingered half-sober about cobbled streets
through October evenings behind Jackson Square,

drifted with the notes of a solitary trumpet
in the gas-lamp light well past midnight,

stood on the front stoop of the Faulkner house
where echoes of a past that’s not even past

beckon before I even arrive home
to my dying valley’s labor and sweat and pain

breaking under the molten orange glow that once fired the Ohio,
smoldering still just enough to shadow the silent street corners

at night where there is no music but the distant thrums
of an 80’s cover band playing “Country Roads” for the thousandth time

and maybe, the solitary pedaling of Moondog up the middle of Main Street,
and from the side of the silent bronze Mingo Indian keeping failed watch

over Wheeling Hill, I descend toward the river,
pass under the darkened, blank marquis of the Capitol Theater,

to the bank just below the Fort Henry Bridge and slip into the quiet
chemical currents of the river, down south and west and further

on into the Mississippi, on down to the wide banks at New Orleans
where pools of yellow and blue light gather on Royal Street at dusk

and a block or two over on Dauphine where no one has ever heard
nor even knows the chords to “Country Roads,” a crowd dances around

the deep plunk of the bass, the crooning sax and trumpet,
the notes drifting up and out over the street, the square,

and on upriver, calling to somewhere way inside,
this is the place you belong.

 

 

A Winter of First Wanting

Lying in the dim yellow of new morning
I am watching my wife dress,

watching as she measures in the mirror
her aging figure against the past,

runs her fingertips across the scar spanning her belly.
A long time ago, now, when our new longing began

turning the world back into a place we could almost
stand again, well before we had paid any price,

well before anything near-death had scarred her
white-smooth skin, we were a solitary two,

folded every morning into new time, new snow, new light.
These wounds hold her longing, I know now,

still beyond any returning to that one
unscathed, unscarred winter.

She studies them, she buries them,
each new morning in the dawn,

unaware of my silent adoration,
unaware of how the curves of her side,

the bare small of her back,
veiled in the milky coming on of new light,

will always deliver my longing
back to that winter of first wanting,

back beyond any new shape, any new wound,
back before we knew anything at all.


William Scott Hanna, a life-long resident of the Upper Ohio River Valley, is an Assistant Professor of English at West Liberty University in West Liberty, West Virginia where he teaches creative writing, American Literature, and Appalachian Literature. His poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in Pine Mountain Sand and GravelHeartwood Literary MagazineStill: The Journal, and Cleaver Magazine.

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