The Hunter Recovers In North Georgia

The morning hovers darkest in the mind, bone-chilled
from camping in a tree stand since five, I walked

the woods to track whatever fresh mud-digs I found
kicked up in the feather snow, to find a path to all things

that happened last year. I can’t remember
if I told my father I was sorry or that I loved him

before the end, but if I had the chance again,
I’d say, I loved him. For several hours

I admired what was not the city, rambling
aimlessly until hearing two bucks clacking racks

then spotted the snout-puffs of steam.
They were a close match, but after a few minutes,

it was apparent, one was superior. Slunk down
in high grass, I steadied my aim until they parted ways.

There would always be next year to stand tall.
In the brief moment the lesser of the two pranced away

toward the treeline, the divine mysteries of memory
stalking me again, scope focused, I aimed my Winchester

at the dominant buck stationed deep in heavy breath.
His chest bowed, antlers pointed toward heaven.

In the forest where no one hands out trophies
for participation, the mourning leaped deep

and dark into the lingering frost. With one shot
I brought down the loser, the way my father taught.

William Walsh

William Walsh

William Walsh is the author of seven books, including Fly Fishing in Times Square, which won the 2019 Editor’s Prize from Červená Barva Press and will be released in August. He is the director of the low-residency creative writing program at Reinhardt University and has been published in The Georgia Review, Five Points, The James Dickey Review, The Kenyon Review, AWP Chronicle, Poets & Writers, Flannery Connor Review, Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere.
William Walsh

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Author: William Walsh

William Walsh is the author of seven books, including Fly Fishing in Times Square, which won the 2019 Editor’s Prize from Červená Barva Press and will be released in August. He is the director of the low-residency creative writing program at Reinhardt University and has been published in The Georgia Review, Five Points, The James Dickey Review, The Kenyon Review, AWP Chronicle, Poets & Writers, Flannery Connor Review, Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere.