A Walk to Carter’s Lake

By David Bottoms b. 1949 David Bottoms
Look, above the creek, hummingbirds in the trumpet vine.   
Not too close, wait. See the green blurs   
stitching the leaves?

Here at the edge of the millennium   
I don’t imagine
you’d call them anything as archaic as angels.

But aren’t they agents of a sort, and secret,   
dissolving and solidifying,
spying from their constantly shifting perches of air,   
always nervous
of us, risking only a stab
in a bell of petals?

Don’t look so stunned, lay your pack
in the needles and catch a breath. I know,   
you thought you knew me,
and now to hear me talk this way ...

I’m glad I’ve stopped pretending
to love people
and the cities where people can’t love themselves.   
This is what the quiet accomplishes,
and the water trusting
the shadows to eventually peel back to the trees.

Small wonder the angels are said to despise us.   
Still, without them
how do we account for our meanness?

Look at that, what else can promenade   
in the air? And how easily
they’re alarmed,
revving off into the mist.

David Bottoms, “A Walk to Carter’s Lake” from Vagrant Grace. Copyright � 1999 by David Bottoms. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: Vagrant Grace: Poems (1999)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet David Bottoms b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Nature, Animals

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 David  Bottoms


David Bottoms was born in Canton, Georgia in 1949. He earned an MA from the University of West Georgia and a PhD from Florida State University. In 1979, Bottoms won the prestigious Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets for his collection Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump. Robert Penn Warren, the contest’s judge, described Bottoms as “a strong poet, and much of his strength emerges from the fact that he is . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.