Half of the dead bats that lie like jetsam
around the tall masts of wind turbines
appear unharmed, wingbones unbroken,
their ears’ stiff calipers still cocked.
But an autopsy finds their lungs
flooded with blood, as if punctured
by invisible splinters. It seems
each whirling blade grows
a zone of low pressure at its tip,
& the bats, attracted to the motion,
are caught unprepared — for what
in 50 million years of evolution
could’ve prepared them for barotrauma
bursting the web of vessels in their lungs,
so that they drown in the air?
Their dun or silver bodies crumple
like divers with the bends.
Exquisitely tuned sonar systems go silent.
The propellors spin on, as if in service
to some vast, uncaptained ship,
a new Flying Dutchman, yawing
under the glue-eyed moon.
Written in response to a Read Write Poem prompt, according to which I harvested five words, one each from five different poems, and wove a poem around them. Other responses to the prompt may be found here.
My words came from Lia Purpura’s wonderful and quirky new book King Baby: slat, calipers, splinter, dun, and glue-eyed. All five words were present in the first draft of this poem, in the order in which I pulled them from a bag, but “thin slats of their wingbones” didn’t survive the edit.