If they spooked my old man he didn’t show it,
only lifted me onto his shoulders and leaned against our back gate. We stared across the woods, the corn stalks rising out of our neighbor’s garden.
Nobody knew what they were—those colored balls of light circling the radio tower—a red ball, I remember, vaporous,
almost translucent, and a green and a blue, floating clockwise around the radio tower.
My aunt had phoned in the middle of the night to urge us into the yard for a look.
This was the summer of UFO reports, but if they spooked my old man, he didn’t show it.
At eight or nine I was already in a panic, everything seemed a sign.
Oddly, though, no one ever mentioned that night again, and how far, really, can memory be trusted?
Now when I try to force it all back, my mind runs straight to the bulbs on our tree,
those Christmas lights glazing the dining room windows. [End Page 70]
DAVID BOTTOMS is the author of eight books of poetry and two novels. His poems have appeared in a large number of magazines, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, The Paris Review, and Poetry. His most recent book of poems, We Almost Disappear, was released in the fall of 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.