Walt McDonald



Hawks are peckish today, wobbling like hubcaps
under blustery clouds. We gasp and lean back,
shedding our packs to watch. Hawks dive

away from each other, flapping to rise
and come back, tips almost touching, gliding
beaks to the wind that sends them soaring

on wide, stiff wings. The tap and crackle of leaves
brings us back where we belong, ground squirrel
or rabbit scampering between rocks. Almost time

for the long climb down to the mail and telephones,
to call our children scattered around the globe.
Never mind tomorrow, hawks are all we need

for now. Butts to the boulder, we follow them
wobbling with binoculars, hawks in a foreplay
of thermals, raptors too busy to kill,

weeks since their hatch flew off, indifferent
to the rabbits hopping today, nibbling weeds
without fear of whatever above them soars.


Walt McDonald


We know the cold routines of spring.
At dawn, a woodpecker tat-a-tats
outside our glass, but we're already up,

mugs cold again, carafe half drained,
hair brushed and vision hardly blurred.
The bird swoops to a blue spruce

down the trail. Elk graze Montana meadows,
and sunlight hits the peak. After coffee,
after crossword puzzles and toast,

we prop the door open wide. Let it blow.
At sixty-five, we're far from grandchildren
on both coasts. If a chipmunk scurries in,

no worry. Let it sniff raw coffee
and yeast, then scamper to fields of columbine,
nibbling, converting blooms to blood.

That coyote that trotted by may double back,
or crouch, or follow a fawn. Elk downhill
will lift their heads and stare.

A cougar drowsy in the shadow of rocks
will rouse, blink sleepy eyes and sniff,
flicking its dark-tipped tail.

Walt McDonald is Texas Poet Laureate for 2001. Some of his recent books are "All Occasions" (University of Notre Dame, 2000) and "Blessings the Body Gave" (Ohio State, 1998). His poems have been in journals including the American Poetry Review, the Atlantic Monthly, London Review of Books, Poetry, The Sewanee Review and the Southern Review.



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