This Boy’s Life


By Joseph Hesch

I took a walk by myself yesterday
and recalled how much I always loved
just walking and watching. 
“Woolgathering,” Grandma called it.
“You’re wasting time, little boy,” she’d preach.
Years and years of it have reaped me a lot of wool,
or maybe just the dust of memories by now.

An ancient tree in the park caught my attention.
It knew I was coming; its limbs waved me down.
And on the edge of the yawning mouth
in the tree’s face—a gash big enough
for a bear to hide in—
rose an impudent squirrel.
He hurled me a lesson full of sound and
fury on behalf of his silent old host,
a fiery flicking tongue testifying there’s some life
left in the old boy, and chit-chitting his pride
that he’s a big piece of it.

That’s when I realized how much I loved my
walks and secret conversations with the world.
I don’t feel like I’ve wasted all of those memories.
I carry their dust in my bones, I’m sure.
They just need to be reconstituted
by fresh perspective and the miracle voices.
Now I collect them, commit them to paper,
and share them with the nascent me,
that fiery, furry—or is it wooly?—
young poem maker who
resides inside this dry old hide. 

Photo by Ruban Phukan


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8 thoughts on “This Boy’s Life

  1. very cool…wool gathering…have not heard that in a while…i tend to do much the same…love how you make it very personal there at the end…now go walk and find a stray poem or two…smiles.

  2. I love those walks through the park. It's a kind of meditation sometimes, just me and my thoughts 'gathering wool' …there's nothing like it for restoring some balance with the world. Never is it wasting time. Maybe Grand parents were right about some things, but not about this 🙂

  3. I love the term 'wool gathering' some would say I have done little else for the last 30 years or so… What a wonderful tale woven into your poem, thanks for sharing it with us 🙂

  4. A couple of weeks ago 3 baby squirrels fell out of their nest in our front yard. Within seconds several of the neighborhood cats were ready to pounce. I'm so glad I was there at the time, to keep the cats away while mama came down the tree to get each one – very traumatized – and take them back up in her mouth.

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