"Bats Perish, and No One Knows Why"

 "Bats Perish, and No One Knows Why"

 "Bats Perish, and No One Knows Why"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Sept. 7 2010 6:58 AM

 "Bats Perish, and No One Knows Why"

—headline in the New York Times

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Reeves Keyworth read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.
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Secluded in their cold arcades of rock,
embraced by a thousand reverberating kin,
bats have perished and are perishing. 
The plowboy in the field, dreaming of love,
perishes, and the scorched grub,
disclosed in the moist earth. 
Spiders and the spiders' children perish:
the hawk, the stylish dragonfly, the trout.
A beetle cocks its blurred eye
at the underside of a leaf and perishes.
The lizard perishes, and the famished fox. 
The mule's body subsides and sours on a riverbank. 
The worshipers perish and the mourners:
the strenuous celebrants, the terrier with his grin,
the best-loved child, the browsing herd of pigs. 
The tongue perishes, and the eye. 
Lamentation and praise, incantation, song,
the resolve of the wolf, and the wolf's prey—perish.
The grassland perishes in fire;
the ant drowns in a waterspout.
The bear, the bat, the water rat,
the woman leaning on her windowsill,
the protozoa sunning in their sluggish green:
perished and perishing. No one knows why.

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