William Walsh: "The Big Cat Tracks My Grandfather"




Sitting on the back porch in an Adirondack chair

with a glass of Ferrari-Carano chardonnay circling

and swirling under my tongue, I am bundled

in a wool mountain sweater as thick as memory,

such as, one afternoon, with smoke hovering

from my grandfather's Winstons, between

battles of Pinochle and Cribbage at the kitchen table,

he shaved off a few tales of the old life,

how hunting once into the late afternoon

with dusk falling around him, he felt,

then saw a big cat tracking him from a snowy ridge.


It had been a blustery day, no deer

in sight, nothing

(not even a squirrel)

to drag through the woods

to his blue station wagon.


It is the same type of day this afternoon

where beyond the tree line

on my sixty acres something stirs,

something I cannot see

or know what, but feel moving around me.

A rafter of turkeys is startled

onto my lawn, squawking,

and deeper in the woods, a cry

and then silence.



William Walsh has published five books: Speak So I Shall Know Thee: Interviews with Southern Writers, The Ordinary Life of a Sculptor, The Conscience of My Other Being, Under the Rock Umbrella: Contemporary American Poets from 1951-1977, and most recently David Bottoms: Critical Essays and Interviews (McFarland).  His work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Five Points, Shenandoah, The Flannery O’Connor Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poets & Writers, AWP Chronicle, Rattle, The James Dickey Review, and elsewhere.  He is also a world-renown photographer.