The Quest – Nels Hanson

for Mandana

I climbed the mountain’s
peak to hear an answer,
hiked to a farthest lake
but the water was stone,

found the cave’s boarded
door, the church’s portal
filled with bricks. “I read
the Bible too, just words

in red, no commentary,
what the man said,” I told
the older Quaker man
who watched backstage

at Woodstock and walked
his dog. I couldn’t fly
and anyway where do
rockets aim? I asked

the seashell and ocean
only murmured a phrase
blue waves must know.
I questioned the rich earth

sprouting sea-green grass
and new blades nodded
mutely in morning breeze.
Sadly, wind added nothing

so I waited for the tongues
of fire. Past a changing
moon I appealed to stars
though none winked its

solution. Ravens they say
can learn to speak cawed
and wouldn’t help, beating
black wings. I skimmed

the message in the bottle
suspended on a string
from a sharpened sword
on a thread, let the paper

fall. Finally I knocked
at any door, it was yours
and all you spoke without
a whisper I took down.

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