My father always carried a 3×5 spiral
in his left shirt pocket, favored green,
where he tracked hawks and herons,
roadkill by species: snakes, coons, the
odd armadillo. Never missing much, he
brought us a beagle puppy that he
found still alive among its dead siblings
in a shattered box the Saturday before
Easter. We ate rabbits he hunted
in the dense hedgerows, learned to
think like a broody hen to find eggs
from the chicks he’d buy come spring
at the Waldo Grain at the edge of town.
Gladly drizzled squirrel gravy over grits.
With him, we scrabbled after the plumpest
blackberries beside the Santa Fe tracks.
Whispered so as not to disturb the nesting
killdeer between the ties. Swirled thick
batter for river catfish or the occasional
treat of bass from a neighboring pond. He
taught us how to read well-thumbed field
guides jumbled on floorboards, press our
finds between stained pages. Waited hours
by the time I was in university for me
to log the Corliss Road, compare the types
of waterleaf, await the bloom of wild ginger.
A pair of hawks sit the cross-country lines
tonight as dusk settles, a sight he’d said was
rare unless the moment was ideal. This morning
I braked to dodge a barred owl and perhaps
tomorrow I’ll record the opening of the first
Jacks in the Pulpit in the shadow of the May
Apples and Dutchman’s britches cascading
down to the spring cut. For now, I thumb his
old notebook, treasured by me long before
those pages penned by Nicholas Sparks.
By Pat Anthony
To read more of Pat Anthony’s poems please visit middlecreekcurrents.