Monday, April 30, 2018

Quarter-Life Poem: The Bat

The Bat

She comes down stairs
and sees her father
through the window
the back of his head
lit by the porch light.
He is staring into the murky dark.
She opens the screen door
peeks her head out.
"I can't sleep," she says
and leans her small head
against his slumped shoulder.
"Tell me a story."

They hear the sound of a bat's wings
flapping through the night.
Underneath her resting head
she feels her father shiver.

He tells her all the stories he has ever heard
about the bat.
About vampires.
About bats hiding in rafters, lurking and leering.
About his littlest brother who was bit by one,
whose picture at age six sits on his mothers mantle.

For the rest of the night,
she cannot sleep, every creak
of the old house settling sounds
like a bats cry, every time
the wind slaps a branch against her window
she thinks it is the frantic flutter of a bat wing.

"She's too young for that story."
her mother chides at breakfast
Her father sees
his weary eyed daughter
staring at him
with dark circles
underneath her small eyes.
She looks like him now-
his littlest brother.

At school, she sits at a desk
next to a girl with a red dress
and a boy with a tucked in shirt
and hard crusty scabs on both elbows.
Each child stares in a different direction
into their own thoughts.

In her own head
bats clutter her thoughts
swooping and flapping their wings
the tips scratching up and
down against bare air
she shakes her head back
and forth
trying to loosen the bats form her thoughts
but instead she feels herself
becoming a bat.

At recess, she runs through the school yard.
Her shoes smack against the cement.
She flaps her arms like great wings.

The bat see's a girl with the same dark hair has her own.
She runs and flaps toward the girl
and bites her arm until the girl cries
heaving sobs from deep within her belly
the girl hollers for help
but not once does the girl try to pull her arm free
or push away the bat girl.
Instead a teacher already drained
with the burden of discipline
pulls the girl sized bat loose.

In the office
the girl tells the principle
that she is a bat.
The principle sighs and looks
at the small girl.
Her mouth is clenched
her eyes cold little pebbles.

The principle thinks the child knows nothing
of the beauty of the bat.
The unlikelihood of a flying mammal
all of it's ancestors evolving to the land or the sea
while the bat conquered the impossibility of air.
the wonderment of an animal surviving
in a world of mass and objects
using echo location to guide itself
through the bleakness of the night.

He tries to explain to the girl
but he cannot figure out how to say it
so instead he tells her not to bite.
She isn't listing.
Instead she stares out the window
and watches the birds.
She shivers at the eerie resemblance
between the song birds
perched on the telephone wires
and the bat. 

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