David Bottoms

December, First Frost
December 16, 2019 Bottoms David

December, First Frost

A small green house sits beside the highway, darkening in maple shade.
It must be evening.
Inside the house my father tapes a match to the end
of a straightened coat hanger.
The pilot light in our furnace has died,
and now that the furnace grill leans against a door frame
a dark hole has opened in the floor of our hallway.
My father lies on his stomach.
He shakes a valve and stretches his arm into that darkness.
The hole stays dark
as a voice rattles out of the burners.
Why do I think it an admonition?
That same afternoon on the ridge beyond our neighbor’s pond,
I’d also been afraid,
afraid to lean my head toward the mouth of a cave.

David Bottoms’ first book, Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump (William Morrow, 1980), was chosen by Robert Penn Warren as winner of the 1979 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets. His poems have appeared widely in magazines such as The AtlanticThe New YorkerHarper’sPoetry, and The Paris Review, as well as in sixty anthologies and textbooks. He is the author of seven other books of poetry, two novels, and a book of essays and interviews. His most recent book of poems is We Almost Disappear (Copper Canyon Press, 2011).