The Daily Anthropocene: Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe

white nose fungus

I saw this headline in the Washington Post this morning:

Erratic bat behavior at Great Smoky park may be linked to lethal syndrome

“We’re watching a potential extinction event on the order of what we experienced with bison and passenger pigeons for this group of mammals.” Mylea Bayless, conservation programs manager for Bat Conservation International

I love bats, the acrobats of summer dusks. D.H. Lawrence describes them well:

Look up, and you see things flying
Between the day and the night;
Swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together.
A circle swoop, and a quick parabola under the bridge arches
Where light pushes through;
A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air.
A dip to the water.
And you think:
“The swallows are flying so late!”
Swallows?
Dark air-life looping
Yet missing the pure loop …
A twitch, a twitter, an elastic shudder in flight
And serrated wings against the sky,
Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,
And falling back.
Never swallows!
Bats!
x
Spotting a bat flicking through an Immelmann turn under a streetlight rings my heart, like a gong struck softly with a padded mallet, penumbral reverb in the susurration of evening. I feel about bats the way I feel about fireflies. My hindbrain registers a sputtering pang of joy at the sight of them: We haven’t killed them off…yet.  Yet. Now, in the Smoky Mountains, bats are flying in winter. From the Washington Post article:
x
 Bats that fly around in the winter are doomed, even when they don’t have white-nose. They use up fat reserves stored for the winter and starve because the bugs they eat are hibernating.

Bats
By Randall Jarrell

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 midair
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.

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One response to “The Daily Anthropocene: Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe

  1. This hurts too bad to leave a comment.

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