At first we thought it was a bird, this darting
creature that erupted from the chimney,
scattering ash and soot over our new-used sofa,
down the hall. Two black wing-beats marked
the door’s molding before it flew
into the room full with unused furniture
and boxes waiting for unpacking. My mother
chased it with a broom, swinging
the frayed straw end and murmuring,
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 and told me to sit still
on the stairs, watching the threshold
while she found a rag – the better, she said
to catch and release. When she went into the room
she closed the door. Emerging minutes later,
triumphant, she clasped the keening black
thing in a worn yellow towel.
I undid the latch on 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
among the stacked shadows of cardboard
marked, in my father’s sloppy hand,
“Kitchenware” and “Things Rita says
I can’t throw away,” until the creature calmed,
stopped circling the ceiling, settled
on a dresser. Before each step she took
to close the space between them
she paused, waited, at last reaching out
and covering its wings.
Still working on the drafts. Also, already failed NaBloPoMo? Whomp whomp.