by Billy Edd Wheeler and Henry W. Jensen
Tiny in his woodcarver’s paws
Sang like leather-lunged geese
Giving in tremolo and plink
Hints of hot hidden passions
--Some old Valley secret.
--A lady love lost to New Orleans.
I remember his shop. . .
Piles of wood chips,
Stains of minnwax,
Smells of his bachelor’s clothes
Hung among boxwoods and dark pine closets.
In the eye of my Swannanoa future
He was a mountain man
Who subscribed to Punch.
He read the New York Times
As great-uncle Samuel read woods sign.
He spoke of burley maple and Jascha Heifetz,
Of walnut grain and tone color.
In his duck voice he made campus laughter
With talks like “Dead Cat In The Attic.”
To ‘Why did you never marry?’ he said
The older I grow
The more particular I get
. . .And the less desirable.
He had a bad eye
Which added to his legend
His smokey mountain magic
Of old and new, a living folk riddle
In Thomas Wolfe country,
Eccentric, eclectic, always entertaining.
You never knew which eye fixed you
As he swooped his bow
Snorting and sucking wind,
Ending it all with “Ho-hum!”
Travis and other Poems of the Swannanoa Valley
Wild Goose, Inc., 1977