Bat flying at dusk

One Poem by Bill Yake

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Conversation Among Old Folks

Common Ground Farm, Outskirts, Olympia, Washington, Washington
September 5, 2012

When I arrived, bringing a book on easing
bodily pains, Greg sat at the table holding
a diminutive, bedraggled bat tucked in his left
hand. With his right, he fed her. Chicken fat

on a toothpick and in the bat’s enthusiasms
the fat proved better, even, than meal worms.
She was ravenous, worked her fanged mouth
wide. Reached with a wing to pull the fat-dabbed

toothpick in whenever it withdrew. Famished
for having been trapped, mistakenly, the night
before, on flypaper; then rescued and unglued—
no one knew if she’d eaten the trapped flies.

Talk wandered then: from bats to the glittering
chitin in their guano, swifts stalling over chimney
roosts, falcons clued to that, and aircraft crashing
—having lost the horizon in Antarctica. Nancy

cleaved plucked chickens, with her whack
severing thigh from drumstick, while Julie
examined books to size the absent swifts, and
for a long, long moment no one’s body ached.




Bill Yake lives with his wife, Jeannette, overlooking a salmon stream running to the Salish Sea. His poetry collections include This Old Riddle: Cormorants and Rain and Unfurl, Kite, and Veer (Radiolarian Press); his poems appear widely in anthologies and publications serving environmental and literary communities. These include Orion, Rattle, Cascadia Review, and NPR’s Krulwich’s Wonders. Waymaking by Moonlight, a gathering of Bill’s new and selected poems, will be published by Empty Bowl Press in November 2020.

Read Bill Yake’s Letter to America, “A Version in Which a Mirror Shatters,” plus three poems and two video poems originally appearing in Terrain.org.

Header photo by musthaqsms, courtesy Needpix.com. Photo of Bill Yake by Jeannette Barreca.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.