Fourth Day Barbastelle bat / General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos
On the Wing
Beard of stars, star-beard, Barbastelle,
a little white beard distinguishes you
from Pipistrelle and Daubenton or Serotine.
It sprouts under your face’s dark brown fur.
This face is a gargoyle to fend off evil spirits
taken from the west portal of Chartres. An ageing ET with
a tiny squashed nose, black, round shiny eyes and
enormous white-edged ears, which are needed for echo-location,
your tracking of nocturnal insect life.
This combination of fur and wing disturbs like good surrealism.
Your tessellated wings in out-stretch are so fine,
they must have inspired Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome,
or at least the umbrella. And yes, you are a quadruped:
your front and rear stump-limbs elongate elegantly
into two rapturous wings,
which are huge in proportion to your kind-of-cosy furred body.
The three gently angled divisions of each wing
are surfaced in honeycomb mottling. The only mammal to fly.
This is, after all, a miracle.
A dark shred of disbelief attaches itself to a white
nightgown, throat clutched like a fist, she is alone
with the bat. Trapped in her room past midnight
and no one to wake for help. Illicit fingers steal her
peace, and he quivers, waiting.
She pities him, his radar found wanting. Little, by little,
she unfreezes, moves to the window, clings to the curtain.
The bat has spread leathery wings like her old hands, full
of instinct, and she sits for hours in the window, high
in the glass tower; an ageing princess, with her one suitor.
Her start, as the light clicks off, brings the bat from his dreams,
he swoops to life
and she screams the meaning of hers out into the night.
About Bats: The Chiroptera Sonnets
All our food have ears, so we must use stealth.
They hear our echoes, make their own so we
hear theirs and think it ours. We must change depth
of our echo so they cannot hear. Free
to hunt, until they find new ways to stop
us. In flight I glean water as I skim
it, flit quick, echo up at Tallness top.
New echo works. Food is no longer thin.
Dark colder sooner. In Long Cold we must
enter Slow Time. Heart to few from many
beats, gathered together in Hard Dark roost.
All flitterers we ate feed our bellies.
Come Long Warm this heart will beat quicker, these
wings unfold hungry for flight and release.
Bios And Links
Originally a Londoner, Alison Dunhill had a poetry pamphlet published in her early twenties in Paul Brown’s Trans Gravity Advertiser, 1972. She was also published in Martin Stannard’s Joe Soap’s Canoe #15 in 1992. She was tutored at the Arvon Foundation by Michael Laskey and Martin Stannard in the early 1990s, and has given readings at Pentameters, St Catherine’s College, Oxford, St James’s Piccadilly and Torriano Meeting House. Having moved to Norfolk in the new millennium, she has participated in open mikes at Fenspeak in King’s Lynn and Ely, Café Writers in Norwich and at CB1@CB2 in Cambridge. She has participated in almost ten years of stimulating workshops with Sue Burge. Sue acted as mentor for my forthcoming SurVision chapbook. She had two pieces longlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Prize in March this year. Two of her poems are published in the current issue of SurVision magazine (July 2020) and two are published in the December 2020 issue of Fenland Poetry Journal. She won Second Prize in the James Tate International Poetry Prize, 2020 and has a consequent chapbook forthcoming in 2021. She has always worked concurrently in the visual arts and in recent years is incorporating poetry into her art practice. An art historian too, her MPhil thesis forges links between interwar surrealism and 1970s US photography (please see her WikiPedia entry).