“In this year terrible signs were seen in the skies over Northumberland, and people were horribly afraid. There was incredible lightning, and fierce winds, and fierce dragons could be seen flying through the air.”
-From the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 793 A.D.
You see them hanging from power lines.
Like tennis shoes. Fruit bats that land
on conductors, perhaps in search
of a blossom, throwing the entire grid
into short circuit. They almost look natural,
leathery wings draped over charred upside-down
torso, skull still steaming. Mummified on the wires,
the crisp thin skin and matted black fur
burns your nostrils while lights flicker house
to house, the air a whisper smoking
through basements and attics like a cloud
in the night sky, invisible except
to the part of you that starts when the power
goes out, stands and walks to the window
as though Death is going to be on
the stoop, cold bone crowned in shadow,
robe flitting while the wind claps its wings.
First appeared in Roanoke Review 33 (Spring 2008)