Saturday, April 26, 2014

National Poetry Month: David Bottoms

"A Morning from the Gospel of John"
for Reynolds Price
(David Bottoms)

This morning  in my bathroom mirror, I glimpsed the slope
of my shoulders, my chest thinning to a hint of ribs,
the hair on my pouching belly 
black and beaded with water,
and pondering myself limp and priestly,
laced with blue veins, I judged nothing threatening.
Sometimes, I admit, I even look at this unremarkable body
which is beautiful only
in design, and feel a laughable joy.

So of what is the body to be mindful?

And I remembered the disciples who fished all night
on the sea of Tiberius
only to come in at daybreak, their boat empty.
From the shore a stranger asks what they've caught. 
Nothing. Then throw to the starboard.
And there they catch more fish
than they can haul. I like to think of Simon Peter
when he first catches that voice, how in one translation
he tucks up, not girds on, his shirt.
I study that moment he jumps from the boat, eyes
on the shore, hands
lifting shirt over legs, groin, hips.
I love to imagine being startled
into innocence, heedless
of the body leaping naked toward God.

"A Morning from the Gospel of John" by David Bottoms appears in his collection Vagrant Grace. Bottoms told an interviewer in 2006 that since the publication of Vagrant Grace in 1999, "I don't really think the poems have shifted so much toward the spiritual – I think I've always worked toward that, at trying to be what [Robert Penn] Warren calls a "seeker." But there is a significant shift toward a Christian outlook. A very liberal one for sure, but still it's a spiritual quest that frames itself in Christian mythology."  Bottoms' other books include Under the Vulture-Tree, In a U-Haul North of Damascus, and Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump. His most recent book is We Almost Disappear (2011). Here is a Bellemeade Books post excerpting a 2002 interview with author Reynolds Price from BOMB magazine.

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