I don't understand bats, why they loop
over my head at dusk, but some details stay
just as remembered, and how often
can you say that?
Night after night, stepping into a house
flush with anger, stubble-coarse,
that gives way at last to silence — still angry,
but without words, which makes us less
human with one another, and bearable.
I tried spinning out of one life and the bats
moved with me,
papering space with odd sightings: a black sock
crumpled in the washer, scooped out before
I feel tiny bones or see the bared teeth:
another perched, twitching
my pillow at dawn as I stir startle freeze.
Most trap themselves
inside at night: like an infant's hunger
or the croup, the timing is their own,
with nothing to do but stumble out of bed
and answer to them.
It is possible to develop a competence
at anything, even trapping a small, clicking fright
latched to a curtain, aiming heavy towels
away from the clean
dishes stacked in the drainer: fold
the fabric quickly underneath, run to the door
and fling the whole bundle out.
It is difficult
to hold still and discover anything
new in the day. Bats know this:
that's why they are most alive in the dark.
Virginia Smith earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Northwestern University, where her poetry manuscript, One Voice May Survive the Other received the Distinguished Thesis Award. Her work has most recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in Denver Quarterly, The Jet Fuel Review, Lily Review, and Southern Poetry Review.