Bats



A bat is born
Naked and blind and pale.
His mother makes a pocket of her tail
And catches him. He clings to her long fur
By his thumbs and toes and teeth.
And then the mother dances through the night
Doubling and looping, soaring, somersaulting —
Her baby hangs on underneath.
All night, in happiness, she hunts and flies.
Her high sharp cries
Like shining needlepoints of sound
Go out into the night and, echoing back,
Tell her what they have touched.
She hears how far it is, how big it is,
Which way it’s going.
She lives by hearing.
The mother eats the moths and gnats she catches
In full flight; in full flight
The mother drinks the water of the pond
She skims across. Her baby hangs on tight.
Her baby drinks the milk she makes him
In moonlight or starlight, in mid-air.
Their single shadow, printed on the moon
Or fluttering across the stars,
Whirls on all night; at daybreak
The tired mother flaps home to her rafter.
The others all are there.
They hang themselves up by their toes,
They wrap themselves in their brown wings.
Bunched upside-down, they sleep in air.
Their sharp ears, their sharp teeth, their quick sharp faces
Are dull and slow and mild.
All the bright day, as the mother sleeps,
She folds her wings about her sleeping child.


“Bats” is from The Complete Poems, by Randall Jarrell. Copyright © 1969, renewed 1997 by Mary von S. Jarrell. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.


This article appears in the October 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

What Did You Do Once You Knew?

Excerpted from Love Letter to the Milky Way, by Drew Dellinger.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »This Month

Springtime Smile Party at Groton Wellness

Drop by Groton Wellness from 6:30 to 8 p.m., May 7, for a free Springtime Smile Party celebrating the grand opening of its new pediatric and orthodontic space.

SBN’s 30th Annual Conference on Sustainable Business

The Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts will host its 30th annual Conference on Sustainable Business from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., May 31.

Save Money on Local Produce with CSA

Every day of the week during the summer, Clover Food Lab turns into a pickup point for the best farmshares in New England.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

An Often-Missed Diagnosis in Women
The source of a woman’s obstructive sleep apnea symptoms can be misdiagnosed because of the overlapping symptoms associated with hormone changes and depression.

Mental Health Diet

Using Food as Medicine for Anxiety and Depression
The greatest strategy to decrease inflammation and thus support optimal mental health is through consuming an anti-inflammatory diet where food is used as medicine.

The Ultimate Heroes

Our May issue arrives with spring in the air and “Her Soul in Bloom: Self-Care for All Stages of Life,” Marlaina Donato’s blissful feature on the importance of me-time.