THAT GRANITE BALANCED ABOVE US

Oh, hawk, go on and dive,
we know you're hungry.
That rabbit you have your eye on
won't last long, hopping
in sparkling grass.  Look at it,

nibbling as if this rocky mountain
was Disneyland, and it a star
fat tourists might stop to pet.
My wife, who won't eat
when the Discovery channel flaunts

nature flicks--lions ripping zebras,
crocodiles thrashing wildebeests--
watches the bunny, so I cock
binoculars away at granite
scarred like a sphinx, a cliff

that tumbles boulders downhill
wider than this cabin.  Will he dive?
she asks, far-sighted and psychic.
Slipping the strap off
around my neck, I say, I think

it's a she, but she shoves it away.
Let her eat, she says,
woman who bore three babies
in pain I can't imagine.
She's braver than me,

tougher, doesn't confuse
that bunny with Thumper,
doesn't hate that hawk,
the coyote we saw at dawn
following a scent.


           Walt McDonald



Previously published in The Cresset






JOGGING AT SIXTY-FIVE

Dawn runners call raw wind a bear, bite it
breath by breath until the cold bear roars.
We stumble on ruts frozen stiff as hoes

turned upside down. Sun is a rumor
cirrus clouds pass along like gossip,
gossamer strung from the east like webs.

By fifty, nature gives up on bodies
soft as sandcastles after ebb tide.
Puffing, we pump fists doubled on nothing

but life lines wrinkled when we were born.
Bony legs run to get the old blood
pumping, squeeze, squeeze that blue juice

to our toes, up to skulls of gray hair
sweaty under wool caps flapping our throats.
One old couple could keep this pace all day,

panting around the solid lake to turn
and circle back--shorter to cut across
on ice ten inches thick, but cheating.

Crows hurl themselves from spruce,
cascades of snow we dip through,
not even blinking. Somewhere, a loon

croons its crazy song, and why not.
Our bodies wobble like Apollo 13,
short of oxygen and fuel--makeshift,

but doing what wobbly bodies can do,
the lake a frozen glow that pulls us
like the moon and hurls us home.


           Walt McDonald


Previously published in The Oxford American

TAR
WALT McDONALD was an Air Force pilot, taught at the Air Force Academy, and is Texas Poet Laureate for 2001. Some of his recent books are All Occasions
(University of Notre Dame Press, 2000), Blessings the Body Gave and The
Flying Dutchman (Ohio State, 1998, 1987), Counting Survivors (Pittsburgh,
1995), Night Landings (Harper & Row, 1989), and After the Noise of Saigon
(Massachusetts, 1988).  His poems have been in journals including American Poetry Review, The American Scholar, The Atlantic Monthly, First Things, JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), London Review of Books, New York Review of Books, Poetry, and TriQuarterly.