2005 SPUR Award Winner
A West Texas starscape, stunning by any measure, is emblematic of Walt McDonald's plains. A lifelong celebration culminates in this, his best--and perhaps last--collection of new poems. At seventy, the poet affirms, we live by the mystery of grace even as we watch familiar stars blink out at dawn. For he believes "God knows we are dust / and counts our steps." In "Leaving the Middle Years," he writes, "At our age, / every day is grace and every breath / a blessing. Life is grass, stunningly brief / but abundant in so many ways."
Walt writes about heroes--a mother who taught tumbling; family and friends gone to war; the brave at home who heal or console; others who rescue from war zones as many children as they can. Heroes, too, are those whose fidelity and joy find faces in these poems. Watching crows at dawn in Montana, a husband thinks of his wife inside their mountain cabin:
If Ursula finds more gray
she'll go on humming, knowing it's okay,
our children three thousand miles away
but fine, when they called last night.
She comes outside with coffee,
closing the door so softly
even the crows don't stop.
Walt McDonald, a former Air Force pilot and Texas Poet Laureate, has published books with Harper & Row and university presses including Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Texas Tech, and more than 2,300 poems in journals including The Atlantic Monthly, London Review of Books, New York Review of Books, and Poetry.