Bat in a Jar*
The jar was a mason jar, made to preserve
apricots and stone cherries and to withstand
the extremes of cold air and hot water baths
where the steam, rising, lifts
the canner’s black lid
only to drop it, hissing, again. And the bat,
trapped inside knew, if it knew anything,
it would never escape, though
the sky kept humming
with insects and the orchards darkened
as usual, apparently the same.
Someone had put the bat in a jar—to avoid
bites and disease or to protect
the bat itself from house cats and dogs?
In any case, the bat kept calling
for rescue, measuring what confined it, trying
to scale the horizon, that sky of glass. But though
the bat’s ears shaped themselves
to the echo, though the echo
filled the glass, the jar parodied
the bat’s longing and gave back
nothing of itself.
Mirrored, only the bat was mirrored. Its fear
inaudible except to itself, confined
to its own mind. That which enabled
the bat to select a mosquito
or to nip a June beetle out of the air
now sickened it. Open-mouthed,
wings beating hopefully, hopelessly, the bat
lifted its wing like one seamless membrane
and again and again
tried to answer.
*The Ripped-Out Seam (The Sheep Meadow Press, 1993).
Copyright © 2004 REbecca Seiferle.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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