Cole is now six feet three.
So small, slender was he,
his unshaven cheek so tender,
I gave him a girl’s gun,
its thirteen one-eighth pull
fitting his winter wool.
Most every shot rang true.
Down dropped the mallard drake,
down wailed the wingshot gander
Feeney plucked from the lake.
I gave him a grade four gun
left by father to son,
in hopes I’d produce my own;
I gave him a Buck sheath knife
and an old Arkansas stone
on which a kid could hone
the dull sides of his life.
A blond, blue-eyed boy,
stockpad fitted to shoulder,
he hadn’t far to travel
to gain his mastery
of stubble, slough or tree,
just a few miles of gravel,
a few years to grow older.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 28 Number 1, on page 29
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