Walt McDonald


Big Don and Earl and I drove eighty miles
to a college in Georgia, for that meant girls.
We swore we'd flown above them for months,

long, slow rolls in pilot training.
They tittered when we talked with our hands,
showing them climbs and turns, how to dive and spin

and come level, seniors who'd never
flown a plane. We met them all once more --
Conrad in place of Don, who married

his sweetheart, promoted early to colonel
before he crashed in Vietnam. All that,
long ago, before Conrad left the Air Force

for the airlines, Earl to the Pentagon
and a heart attack, and I to Saigon and back,
to ride an aging gelding on the ranch,

to raise three babies who've moved away,
to wade through snow and touch Don's name
in Washington on a wall.

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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