Poetry Porch: Poetry


Sleeping Child Lake
by Nels Hanson

A single stream, slender Mad Horse Creek
tries to feed Montana’s deep Sleeping Child.
Twice engineers gauged its volume sparse
its current too weak, the clear color wanting

for the emerald lake. Other experts agreed
Moose Lake was reservoir but 20 barrels
of tracer dye’s red stain can’t point the way
to Sleeping Child. Geologists, then a team

of three brave divers in a sealed iron bell
failed to plot the lake’s green one secret
source. Charles Two Hats knows a channel
tunnels granite under tall Black Mountain

to connect a valley blocked by fearsome
peaks, a place called “Mother of Water
Lands.” Stray hunters vanish and poachers
turn instantly to stone. If a jet flies over

bored passengers and pilots dully gaze
a wasteland. No dying spirits earn entrance
there but in big dreams or hardness of need
you may spy it, far off, sky a paler blue

than ours. Buffalo graze at ease vast meadows
among mule deer, elk and antelope, all
unafraid. They know from blood and bones
they rise to drink cold jade, the river brimming

where ghostly silver leaves of aspen wink
and flicker, refuse to blaze gold fire or fall
before snow’s killing winter that never
comes, shading ferns and clean white sand

along the shore. Teepees and smoking
racks tended by a boy in bead-sewn deerskin
stand at the river’s curve, where older ones
young again sing and try to wake a weeping

child. Now, tomorrow, any hour he’ll rouse
to risk the dark passage in his larch canoe
sail alone to rescue the world he sobs for
in sad dreams of us. Great Sleeping Child

your famous waters sweetly taste and shine
with distant lost Spring’s first March green
flowing endlessly without rest or slumber
from your forgotten undiscovered branch.

Copyright © 2013 by Nels Hanson.