ONE POEM – Jack B. Bedell

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Photo by Igam Ogam on Unsplash

 

Memory: Bats

My grandparents kept their freezer
……….in an outbuilding behind the house
……………………..so its compressor wouldn’t make the kitchen

hotter than it had to be on summer days.
……….I hated being sent out there
……………………..to fetch a jar of something

or a broom left propped
……….against the shed’s doorframe.
……………………..I thought the air in the room

was dead from being closed up.
……….And the structure always
……………………..scratched and moaned

with every step. Once,
……….in late fall,  I was sent out there
……………………..to get ice cream after supper,

and as soon as I touched the freezer’s handle,
……….the tar wall behind it rippled.
……………………..I ran inside to tell my uncle

because I knew he’d believe
……….I wasn’t too lazy to carry dessert,
……………………..brought him back out with me

carrying his bulleye.
……….The second we laid hands
……………………..on the freezer’s lid, the wall

woke, and we both jumped back.
……….Uncle held the lamp up
……………………..but didn’t light it right away.

I’m pretty sure he thought
……….we’d found a porthole to some place
……………………..he did not want to go.

When finally he clicked his headlamp on,
……….we saw the whole, living wall filled
……………………..with bats tucked in like books on a shelf.

They held each other close, blinked their eyes
……….against the harsh light as if the plague
……………………..of morning had come upon them early.

 

Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. His latest collections are Elliptic (Yellow Flag Press, 2016), Revenant (Blue Horse Press, 2016), and No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, fall 2018). He is currently serving as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019. 

 

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