“Cubs on Allatoona” by David Bottoms

David Bottoms


We unrolled our bags around the gasping fire.
My first camping trip, and the woods
were anything but silent. I tried to pretend I was brave.
Though two dads still clowned in the boat, flailing the water
with jitterbugs and spoons,
we shed our shoes and zipped ourselves in.

When the Scout masters doused the fire,
the stars, as promised, went electric above the lake.

Suddenly the sky seemed
one great puzzle. If I could only connect
those dots all the great questions
might be answered. The voices in the trees were ominous,
but if I could only connect those dots … No.

Still, something might be revealed,
and I listened into the night to those hissing woods,
to the muffled chatter on the lake,
and to those Scout masters
in the cabin
swearing over whiskey and cards.

from Rattle #39, Spring 2013
Tribute to Southern Poets


David Bottoms: “Now on the spot where my house sat there’s a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the K-Mart parking lot is covering the place where my grandfather’s house and store were. When my daughter was a kid we’d drive by and I’d say, ‘This is where we lived, right here,’ and she’d say, ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken?’ But you know, a lot of times at night when I try to go to sleep that old landscape plays over in my mind and it’s just sad, in a way, to have lost that, to have lost that connection and know that I’m one of the few people left who has any sense of that place, what it was and what it meant to folks. Maybe it didn’t mean so much then, but right now it means a lot. It means a whole lot.” (more)

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