Army Mom’s Safe Haven

Walt McDonald


Walt McDonald is a former Poet Laureate of Texas, and until 2002 he was the Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of English and Poet in Residence at Texas Tech University. He has published twenty books of verse, the most recent of which is "Climbing The Divide". His book "Rafting The Brazos" is available at NetLibrary. He received his PhD from the University of Iowa


All winter peacocks screamed, strutting the same
slow pose. At dawn, we smashed the ice with hammers,
dumped pots of boiling water steaming into troughs
for beaks of preening peacocks. They shoved each other off
like cousins bunched at the only mirror at church.

My logger father whittled a forest with buzz saws,
the roar and buzz of steel and mosquitoes
more than my ears were tuned for.
My sister and I played keep-away with feathers,
dazzling the surly turkeys and peacocks with footwork,

lobbing frozen dirt clods like grenades,
until our father called us. When roads were frozen,
I jockeyed the throttle of a John Deere
rusted before the war, hauling logs and hay bales
to farmers miles away. The war was almost lost

when my father enlisted, Pearl Harbor bombed,
the fall of Bataan all we heard for hours
on every station at night, except for our parents
talking softly after bedtime
and peacocks screaming in the dark.

©Copyright by Walt McDonald (Date Unknown)