Big Don and Earl and I drove eighty
to a college in Georgia, for that meant girls.
We swore we'd flown above them for months,
slow rolls in pilot training.
They tittered when we talked with our hands,
showing them climbs and turns, how to dive and spin
come level, seniors who'd never
flown a plane. We met them all once more --
Conrad in place of Don, who married
sweetheart, promoted early to colonel
before he crashed in Vietnam. All that,
long ago, before Conrad left the Air Force
the airlines, Earl to the Pentagon
and a heart attack, and I to Saigon and back,
to ride an aging gelding on the ranch,
raise three babies who've moved away,
to wade through snow and touch Don's name
in Washington on a wall.
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.