“Slow Nights in the Bass Boat” by David Bottoms

David Bottoms


Some nights when the fishing slows,
when the stripers
and hybrids drift through the cove like elusive thoughts,
you crank in the jig, prop the rod in the boat.

Some nights the trees on the bank are black and soundless,
a fat wall of darkness,
and the silence on the water feels like the voice
of a great absence.

Across the wide cove the lights of the bait shop
flicker like insects,
and, finally, a few stars struggle through the shredded clouds.

Silence, then, exceeds the darkness. Silence.

You grasp the gunnels and lean forward,
you catch a long breath.
That gnawing in your chest sharpens and spreads.
Your grip tightens.

The rustle in your ears is something grand and awful
straining to announce itself.
Your jaw trembles. Out of your yearning
the silence shapes a name.

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.” (web)

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