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WALKING WITH WALTER
by Sebastian Matthews
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Walter wants to know how I am doing
so far, what I think of this and that.
It's a simple gift to be in the beam
of Walter's interest. And there's something
of the dignitary in Walter's way
with people, crossbred as it is with the absent mind
of the professor and the sure hand of the gentleman
farmer (straight out of some lesser-known
Frost poem). A soul emissary, then, who
at present -- as we pass up through
the bristling pines, along a New England
stone wall -- is asking about my father,
recently dead, about how it has been
dealing with the aftermath and all
the troubled souls that end up at the door
of the dead poet's house uninvited.
He seems to understand: brother, father,
teacher -- yes, even son. He's that good
at listening. And listening, too, for some echo
out of the forest, some crow flap to awaken
an answer (in me?). He just nods. We keep walking,
and as we go forward, me conjuring my
love for my father, I feel some hidden part
dislodge, take wing, fly up
to join the crow in the late-afternoon haze --
my body moving onward with Walter, as lightly
as cumulus clouds passing soundlessly over water.
Sebastian Matthews is a visiting writer at Pitzer College, in Claremont, California. His work has appeared in The New England Reviewand Jacaranda Review.
Copyright © 2000 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; February 2000; Walking With Walter; Volume 285, No. 2; page 76.