Peace Corps Writers
A Writer Writes
The Best Little Drag Show in Outer Mongolia
  by Thor Hanson (Uganda 1993–95)
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Very simple: let the sky draw itself closed,
taking with it the hills, the fence post, the object
of desire. Write our names in ash on the hearth
and the fire will burn all night. I too have spent time
alone, rubbing the shine from stars and raking
the beach until a single shell is left, bone white
and dropped like a wish. There is no moon tonight and the shore
is mostly memory, an understatement of waves and tree,
black rocks in spindrift armor, where a kelp-stranded crab trap
shares the reef with herons, a gull, and the skin from last
night’s cod.

We’ve both lost seasons to solitude, our memories yellowed
like settlers in an old photo, hands crossed, faces just as stern
and mouths so full of loathing. They’re gone now, like summer
wings and water signs, or places safe from healing. I’ve grouped
everything in threes and traced the ground beneath me with
ancient sand and order: a silent forest of reasons,
trunk upon trunk. Finally, the skies find a new idea for
weather: cold, wet fog in the morning and trees no more than

On Cascade Lake two teals take flight to mark my passing,
females, wood-hued like the man I met from Pakistan
who’d lost his wife and told me: One day I will be brilliant.
I’m studying to know your father. He made no sense
but led me to believe him with nods and assurance,
a gaze made sad by the yearn of his twice-forgotten eyes.

It’s true: the world remembers winter
the same way darkness comes for my eyes
on nights I fight to sleep, a winding cloth of cotton
flecked with the silver fire I cling to
like the windborne spray of shattered waves,
so brief, so futile, so soon to be blamed for failing.

“Finally” won the 2001 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize awarded by Wind Magazine.
     Thor Hanson is a writer and naturalist from the Pacific Northwest. After the Peace Corps he lived and studied in Kenya and Tanzania. Hanson’ s articles on travel and natural history appear regularly in periodicals and newspapers, and his poems have been featured in Dog River Review.
     Hanson is the author of
The Impenetrable Forests, a memoir of his work with Uganda’s endangered mountain gorillas, and he contributed to the forthcoming Wilderness Comes Home: Rewilding the Northeast. Hanson studied ecology and writing at the University of Redlands and received his Masters degree from the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist Program.     
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