Ted Kooser

The Sick Bat

From At Home Poems. The Comstock Writers Group, 2016.

It was right side up, which was wrong
for a bat, and was hiding its face
in its shadow, its back to the sun.
It clung to a fieldstone sill at the base
of our barn’s south wall, ten feet below
a house for bats I’d built and nailed up
years before. I suppose it was trying
to pull itself up to the others—the sill
was black with their droppings—
but it didn’t move. For four summer days
I watched it, thinking it had to be dead
but not wanting to touch it, and then,
one afternoon, I brushed it with a stalk
of tall grass and it cried out, not turning
to face what had touched it, moving
no more than the tip of one wing.
In that instant I’d entered a world
I knew nothing of—at least nothing yet—
and I drew back at once. From then on
I kept at a distance. Whenever I looked
it was there, both dead and alive,
and I looked there until it was gone.

Poem copyright Ted Kooser, used here with permission.