First Woods

David Bottoms Click to

bottomsDavid Bottoms is the author of eight books of poetry and two novels. His most recent book of poems is We Almost Disappear (2011). Among his many awards are the Whitman Award, the Frederick Bock Prize and the Levinson Prize, both from Poetry magazine, an Ingram Merrill Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation.  “First Woods” first appeared in Shenandoah 57/3.

Bump and jostle, the road falling fast into rut, ditch, washout,
pines cuffing the windows, and me in the cab
a constant bounce between my old man and my uncle
as we bring up the tail
of a caravan of trucks tumbling like rockslide
leveling into splash and creek-bog,
then back-end swerve and up, the rear tires throwing mud
as my old man crunches gears in a field of orange light
where the sun falls in layers
through the splayed tops of pines…

and here we are on my uncle’s place,
tailgates dropping, cages
swinging open, the meadow of brown grass crazy with scent,
until one bark rises, circles and leads,
and the whole pack swarms the woods.

Buzzards over the field, and crows, then a circus of bats,

but mostly I’ve kept the jar and pitch, a clearing of cut hay,
the moon rusting a tractor, and off
in the black woods, that thing I never saw, dragging
those frantic voices.