A Bat in the House (draft 1)

At first we thought it was a bird, this darting dark
creature that erupted from the chimney, knocking
a single one of the stockings down from its nail,
scattering ash and soot over the new-used sofa,
down the hall. Two black smudges, wing-beats,
marked the door’s molding before it flew into
the room we kept for storing unused furniture
and boxes waiting for unpacking. My mother
chased it with a broom, gripping the handle, swinging
the frayed straw end so often used to sweep dust
from behind that sofa and hair from the bathroom floor,
as if to shepherd the bat with the strangest crook.
It did as much use as cooing
you poor dear, you poor little thing.

I was standing in the doorframe, my head barely
to the knob when the force of her swing grazed my shoulder.
She abandoned her broom, told me to sit very still
on the stairs, an eye on the door while she gathered
a threadbare towel – the better, she said, to catch and release
our winged intruder. When she went into the room
she closed the door. My mother emerged minutes later,
triumphant, her hands clasping the keening black thing
in a worn yellow towel. I helped her open the screen door.
Flinging the bat to the sky, she explained
how in that room she’d turned
the lights off, the blinds down,

how her hands spread under the cloth, how she waited
in the stacked shadows of cardboard marked kitchenware
and things we can’t throw away. Until the creature calmed, slowed
its circles around the ceiling, settled on a dresser.
After each step she took to close the space between them
she paused, waited, before reaching out and covering its wings.

Rough draft. Need to write. Need to write more.


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