Poetry and Poetics
OF THE BAT
The students wear t-shirts, shorts
and sandals, but I'm in jeans and a shirt,
my clothes damp and sticky.
Warm dark air sits
in the open mouth of the windows.
Slowly, meticulously, with a small
piece of yellow chalk,
Megan writes her five-line poem
on the board. After everyone praises it,
I mention that she's shifted tenses
four times in three lines.
"My other teachers say I do that, too."
My eyes sting from sweat
dripping into them. The students float
in a jar of fluorescent air.
Corliss asks again if we can
leave early, but before I can say
no, a black bird plunges
through the windows—a bat
skittering into the light.
"I'm not anxious to get rabies," John says.
Megan corrects him: "Not eager to get rabies."
They scoot their desks back
and toward the door. The bat shoots
toward the window near the video monitor
and lands on the shade, compressing itself
into a mound. Now the students lean
into one another as if riding
a bus that's taken a sharp
turn, and the bat quivers
like a dark ear picking up every
word we say and, like the students,
waiting for me to call it a night.
© by Jeff Friedman
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