from  Book Omega of the Odyssey
 

The suitors’ skittish shades began to squeak
Like the scritch of a toxic-fumed permanent marker
Scratching off the names of those who are absent,
Or as when deep in a cave, a small brown bat
Plummets to the guano-spackled basement
Jagged with assorted speliothems,
And the colony of bats is all-atwitter,
A roost that’s been afflicted with the fungus
That causes the contagious white-nose syndrome
Which strikes during hibernation, rousing the bats
From torpor early, stirring them to starve,
And they gibber like dementia from the cave’s mouth
Into the starless, cold night of extinction,
Taking with them a white night-blooming flower
Dependent on chiropterophily,
Just so the suitors pipistrelled and bleeped,
Trailing the lord of florists, with his wand
And Nike sandals, he who delivers a species
Like a bouquet of spiky asphodel,
Apalled with pollen, to the halls of Hell.

 
 
— Originally published in The Mimic Octopus
 

 

 

A. E. Stallings has lived in Athens, Greece since 1999. She is the recipient of fellowships from the United States Artists, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Foundations. She is at work on a new verse translation of Hesiod’s Words and Days.

Photo of bat flying at night by Dennis Donohue, courtesy Shutterstock.

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