Meditation Interrupted by Bats
No one knew how it happened, but one day the soul disappeared like a rumor. Only the poet was terrified enough to search for it. Standing on the back porch every night while the stars went on and the wind, the wind, what language was this, just on the edge of coherence. And inklike streaks overhead—bats, which were not dark souls, as the ignorant once believed. No, only think of that Nature special, the woman whose pet bat, hanging asleep from her collar, came to and crawled inside her blouse as she looked into the camera saying People spread all these rumors....
But we were on the back porch in search of the soul, rumored to be no more than rumor. Should we go down the steps, walk under the pines, murmuring as if at any moment we might begin to speak in tongues and prove the soul is real?— How cool the nights grow. We should go back in for a sweater. Maybe finish the letter we've been writing for years, the one where we explain betrayal as survival. For who among us is not guilty? If the soul is real, it's probably small, dark, batlike; and like the bat capable of hanging for hours unobserved.
In the next part of the special on bats, the basso voice told of bats that live in dormant volcanoes. Then two bold men descended with sturdy rope to observe multitudes of bats, shrieking and swooping and generating such terrible heat that no one watching could not think of Hell. But Hell might also be a rumor. In the letter we've been writing, there is no way of naming the moment of betrayal. It seemed more a sensation than an act of will. Like fabric pulling apart. Or skin. At the part of the back just beyond reach. Where wings would start, if we had them.
Poems by Lynne Knight:
TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets