thursday, november 10

a poem carolann wrote

the lullaby-makers of my child
-hood sleep were miniscule
madmen, disturbers of the peace.
they sang back to the wind, to the
whispers of a house that makes it's own
ghosts, bends stairs under absent
feet and dreams of evicting
the bats from its walls.

this can never be done—the bats were here
for as long as the house had a soul.
some thirty or fifty years ago, their forefathers
built in these recesses a city, conceived
in sleep-chasers' dreams of escape
from the sunlight, dedicated to the eating
of insects and rearing of young.
ill-will is powerless against animal instinct.

any number of failures to block holes in
the attic and eaves, by which bats
escape nightly like shadows given teeth,
would prove to most men the futility
of fighting unexpected house-guests very long.
(even my parents, after a decade's war effort,
resigned themselves when we found an escape route
out of the basement—thereby
explaining those nights when the bats come
upstairs, all scared as hell to find themselves there.)

there is nothing to do but to watch.
when, past sunset, dusk-webbed wings take to
sky, they move sometimes like leaves
in october, self-propelled
reflection of the shape of a draft—
or defiance thereof. we call them dreamers,
for they seem to fly quietly as kites
(that devour prey with a nightmare efficiency).

their dignity is no less variable than ours.
in the walls around our beds the clawing,
scraping wings, shrill voices might mean anything
—a squabble, a scramble for space enough
to hang one's feet in that crowded tenement,
a fight broken out over lost bets, or the
drinking songs of local ne'er-do-wells
corrupting youth and rousing
respectable neighborhoods.

we expect nothing, are suspicious of everything,
but are never afraid anymore.
we listen a moment, turn over, and sleep;
our dreams would be haunted without them.