Bat Watching

After the lights in the pool came on,

I’d float face-up just under the surface,

watching the trees and the deepening sky

ripple and wave, and waiting for dark

shapes of bats to come diving and skating

the plane of the water. They were more

a peculiar turn of motion than any

animal I quite believed in — little

strobic silhouettes, black flurries

cutting the light like a fault in film,

quick dark marks abraded by

some roughness in another space.

They seemed more determined than birds

and more desperate, caught in a vital

frenzy to stay in flight, throwing every

muscle and beat of their bodies against

the fact of their bodies’ falling.

I’d seen their bones in pictures, hands

like thin-drawn versions of my own.

To share that breath felt dangerous.

Still, I looked for them in winter,

having read they’d stow away in sheds

or basements during the freezing months.

I never found any, though I searched,

following my breath to shadowed bays

where ice laced its clean, tiny knots,

folding itself in and out of being, etched

like glyphs inscribed and taken back

by an indifferent, mercurial hand

on the other side of the air.

Maggie Colvett's poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Radar Poetry, among other places. She and her dog divide their time between Athens, Georgia and Piney Flats, Tennessee, where Maggie's family keeps many dozens of chickens.