The Bat Corridor

By | 11 June 2013

Or we could leave the house, the pressure
of its walls and light, its hard words
bumbling against the windows,
and go down to the gully where the creek-bank
collapses with the autumn rains, something
you could fall for and put your lips to.
Come on, bring the mattock for the thistles;
hold it between us if you wish.

We won’t know what makes them
unwrap the bandaged thumbs of their bodies
and bear away from the canopy
the moment the day’s balance tips towards night;
we won’t decipher their insect-seeking sonar,
or tally the number of beetles they catch
and the number they miss.
Yet these little crepuscular bats,
flying by hand, led by their petalled noses,
have us mesmerised in the spiky pea,
motionless, transported.

Scouts sent ahead of the night, detachments
from dark like escaped pocket linings,
one is suddenly there, a sharp dip and yaw
over the paddock, then gone; there
and gone, a relay of presence and absence.
They’re our mystery and guesswork;
their flickering fly-past in the half-light is enough
to make us question the worth of seeing clearly
and settle for partial blindness; enough,
when it’s time to go in, to make you
shift the mattock to the other hand.

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