Fifth Day – Giant Golden-crowned Flying Fox
By the street light
A million thirsty-throated mosquitoes
crowd the street lights.
bats loose themselves
from their topsy-turvey day roosts,
stir the limpid heat.
open their lightning-boom petals
for the gibbous moon.
Call the myriad mouths
of these night witches close.
They are my darling dreams.
Passing the day in shadow,
rising with the moon,
then, when their feasting is done,
slip upside down
into the leather purse of their
wings, like the richest body.
spell-casting, all the while.
I watch the street-light
like a moth, to see them dance.
For many nights now I have stood on the threshold
Watching the sky turn from candle lemon to pink-flecked grey.
Soon you will come
falling from bridges, slipping from roofs.
Escaping the cracks, shoulders pushing through crevices
skin-breathing the valley
the scent of petrichor rolled between your fingers.
You are just a flicker at first
hand-wings like shadow puppets shape shifting
across a newly painted, magnolia bedroom wall.
These days we carry our lives folded like wings.
Carry our friends,
families from room to room. Hug them to us.
Tuck them under our arms.
Place them against our warm cheeks.
Press an ear against the machine.
In solitude, we tap, touch, stroke, click.
Try to navigate distance, obstacles. We hang in rows
amongst bookcases, posters, potted plants, bedside lamps.
Muted and framed in dark caves. We hover over the surface
of our being entombed beneath a surface gloss.
When I opened the door you were there
clinging to the door frame.
The weight of your small body wrapped in the nights’ skin.
fingers still clinging on. How long had you been there?
Had you crawled on elbows and knees to watch
as I stood night after night beyond the corridor of trees,
the light from the kitchen shining out into the dark,
the space between your world and mine.
Unable to hear when the dusk loosened your voice,
the clicking of tongues as you passed by.
-Marion Oxley (runner up in the Trim Poetry Competition 2021 judged by Jean O’Brien )