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.