Bat Ode


by Jeredith Merrin

Downtown Columbus, Ohio, rush hour

Dead, of course, but with soft,
egg-sized black body and
scalloped, coal-satin wings—
so pretty, it was hard

not to be happy to
have the rare city sight
of it. Hyper-real
(the way death always is),

and mildly exotic;
a sidewalk frisson, break-
ing middle-aged boredom.
(Everyone, everyone

becomes predictable—
especially the young
rebels, so timidly

and the “mature” beige ones:
alike in their terror
of appearing foolish
at all costs, at great cost,

inestimable cost.)
The bat was new, intact.
Heart flutter suddenly
stopped, dropped to the pavement.

O Delicately Veined,
Neat Eared, Night Wandering.
Neither epiphanic
lark, nightingale, nor rook.

“Bat Ode” was initially published in Bat Ode from the University of Chicago Press, 2001. Republished with permission from the author and the University of Chicago Press. “Bat Ode” has also appeared in On a Bat’s Wing: Poems about Bats, ed. Michael Baron, Five Leaves Publications, 2007.

About the Author:

Poet Jeredith Merrin has published two books — Shift and Bat Ode —with the Phoenix Poets series from the University of Chicago Press. Her new volume Cup will be published by Able Muse Press in Summer 2014. She lives in Arizona.