unveil themselves in dark.
They hang, each a jagged,
silken sleeve, from moonlit rafters bright
as polished knives. They swim
the muddled air and keen
like supersonic babies, the sound
we imagine empty wombs might make
in women who can’t fill them up.
A clasp, a scratch, a sigh.
They drink fruit dry.
And wheel, against feverish light flung hard
upon their faces,
in circles that nauseate.
Imagine one at breast or neck,
Patterning a name in driblets of iodine
that spatter your skin stars.
They flutter, shake like mystics.
They materialize. Revelatory
as a stranger’s underthings found tossed
upon the marital bed, you tremble
even at the thought. Asleep,
you tear your fingers
and search the sheets all night.
- Paisley Rekdal
By day the bat is cousin to the mouse.
He likes the attic of an aging house.
His fingers make a hat about his head.
His pulse beat is so slow we think him dead.
He loops in crazy figures half the night
Among the trees that face the corner light.
But when he brushes up against a screen,
We are afraid of what our eyes have seen:
For something is amiss or out of place
When mice with wings can wear a human face.
- Theodore Roethke
I’ve been finishing Bram Stoker’s Dracula this week, and so I offer here two takes on the winged ones so prominently featured therein. Personally, I like bats – big or small, in my backyard at dusk or in a zoo-space at noon. Stoker’s novel could, of course, attitude-adjust just about anyone toward fear, but I hope it won’t.
Have you read any poems lately that reveal our human prejudices (for good or ill) through the use of animals as objects for thought-exercise?
Share one with us in the comments, or in your own post linked here.
Not up for communing with our winged, feathered, finned, and furred friends this week? Post any poem you dare…