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.