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  • Writer's pictureNels Hanson

I Ching

This morning the red ant and larger

white-winged fly chase the frightened

large striped spider across the cold

floor. Why, what thirst for retribution

or what helpless fear, what protection?

It’s daylight, time to ask the Chinese

book 3,000 years old a river, the Tao,

runs through. Close your eyes, think

without thinking, shake, throw three

pennies six times. They form parallels,

an old ladder’s rising rungs, broken or

solid, yin or yang, often changing lines,

sixes, nines. Those say where your

life is reaching, that tree growing from

earth, developing itself the instant’s

second hexagram. For each cast fate

is a chosen oracle, from 64 shining with

sun or darkness, twilight at daybreak,

at evening. They tell the same story, do

right in this world, as the stream runs on

to the next and back again, the current

flowing always through you and all things.


Nels Hanson has worked as a farmer, teacher and editor. His fiction received the James D. Phelan award from the San Francisco Foundation, and his poetry the Prospero Prize from Sharkpack Review.


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