photo by James Wainscoat (unsplash)
- The Alcathoe
Home high in splits, cracks and loose tree bark,
near water. I hear it in two ways. Crash
of tumble. Soft echo in our Hunting Dark.
Trees are Hardnesses in our flying Dash.
I may swarm He may chase me. We may
retreat to Darker and make young. Suckles
in my pouch. Then let it hang, while away
I skim leaves, snatch prey mid flight, food rustle
crunchy backed echoes, always hunt echoes
back. Amongst others know it’s cry and smell.
I hold it in my wings, soon its own wings
will learn flight in the Dark, it’s ears know well
a landscape of returning sound, nose scent
of prey, weathered woods, know home’s high ascent.
2. On Mexican Free-Tailed 1/3 To feed my baby I hunt from Lightdark to Darklight. I remember its making. He slowly, comes on grabs Her at the start always by ear, the jaw, or neck, pulling Her out of our crowd, moves onto Her back biting scruff of Her neck. Holds Her. She yanks away , He chirps faintly. She squeaks. Now back with us Her face wounds bleed. She is pregnant. He moves slowly onto my back, His ears held low and eyes closed.. No neck-biting or calls. I do not resist; I groom myself, my ears or sleep. Cold Time comes so we fly to Warm. I give birth clinging upside down to stark Dark thumbs and feet grasp. It wont fall to Dark. Mexican Free-Tailed 2/3 Suckling My baby is born naked, eyes open. I carefully clean and nurse it. New-born attached to me by thread. It'll be eaten if it falls Below by hard scuttlers brawn. I won't rescue it. We learn each other's scent and voice before we separate. I pull away to dislodge Bloodsac, unmother. When dried it falls off child . Tenacious my young use large feet and thumbs to hold on to Hard. It's tiny sharp teeth cling to mothers or others. I put it among young, who squeak, jostle, and crawl over each other. After Hunt, find its call, muzzle top of it's head, sniff, talk, raise my folded wing. It's breastfed. A Mexican Free-Tailed 3/3 First Flight I avoid several mid-air crashes a breath. Rely on my untested guide senses. Break my wings, get Belowed bashes I'll be swarmed, stripped to bone in a breath's Wide. First time I flew outside with our swarm, told to watch for feathered claws that lie in wait I found my first winged hard case, snatched by bold one who jammed my echo. Learnt my mistake. When Cold Time arrives we will fly to Warm. Gather outside entry to our Dark Home. We will rise upwards, our gust makers form shapes in air in flight to our second Home. We must rest and hang the journey, refresh. Mother says new home's food is tasty, fresh. 3. Barbastelle All our food have ears, so we must use stealth. They hear our echoes, make their own so we hear theirs and think it ours. We must change depth of our echo so they cannot hear. Free to hunt, until they find new ways to stop us. In flight I glean water as I skim it, flit quick, echo up at Tallness top. New echo works. Food is no longer thin. Dark colder sooner. In Long Cold we must enter Slow Time. Heart to few from many beats, gathered together in Hard Dark roost. All flitterers we ate feed our bellies. Come Long Warm this heart will beat quicker, these wings unfold hungry for flight and release. 4. The Golden-Crowned Flying Fox I restrain Her from behind, bite Her neck. I approach Her, lick Her. She rejects me. I lick myself. Scratch my head, lick, flex my wing. Flap it. Flap it. Fan my body. It's too hot. As newborn my mother groomed me while she breastfed me. I lick my friend. We mock-bite, mock-wrestle. Recall she bloomed. Her wings shaking, Her chasing, biting ends, she rejects me. I hang sometimes by one foot, sometimes two, eyes open I stare around. I shake my wings, chase, bite, defy. Rub my neck or shoulder along branch share what's mine. Widely open my wings. Sleep, eyes closed wings around myself. Wake to more tries 5. A Bechstein's I can smell the Tallness Tapper in Dark of its abandoned home. Come Dark outside I glean leaves to find food. Once our wings marked length, breadth of ancient Tallness in our glide. It is ever less, and so are we. Shear beak carved out this roost in living Tallness beside water. Temporary home here we females move from Tall to Tall Darkness. beside water. Temporary home here we females move from Tall to Tall Darkness. He stays out there, sometimes on His own. We huddle together for warmth in Long Cold. When we swarm to find Him,to make babies. We make the New and listen to the Old. I hear the living Tallnesses tale tell amongst themselves about who stands who fell. 6. Honduran White Bat Briefly stay in many leaf homes we make. First our teeth cut holes on leaf underside, our feet and thumbs grab hold, our thumbs pull, take it downwards, break some leaf fibers, decide to abandon it. Continue others. I and three more stay with Him in one, two Long Darknesses, then move to another. I cut and reshape other homes. Blown through by gust or damaged by heavy rain I abandon. He Often grooms himself, cuts no work on our homes. Some groom and work. My baby play shapes a broken leaf. Such sharpen their making skills, use mouth and thumb. Soon they will be shaping their own homespun. 7. The Ghost Bat I see feathered ones silhouette against Lightdark .It's chatter distinctive. In the Hollow Darkness I eat its head first. Wrenched feet and wings pile up underneath me. I brought it to ground, my thumb claws held it down, my wings enveloped it, my teeth bit its neck, until it's squawk and flap stilled. I suckled at mother's teat till my teeth grew sharp. Sat and waited for prey with her. She taught me how to call, hear their echoes. Their croak and slither, skitter and flitter. Told me invisible barbs, no one knows when or how they appear will shred our wings no matter how we struggle against things 8. Brown Long-Eared At rest I tuck my ears under my wings, or curl them back. I fly low and slow, hear their flutter, I follow tight stalling turns, my nose makes sounds returned as echo heard by my ears, almost as big as me. I hover glean leaves, as I get closer whisper pulses echo a buzz. I see their uneatable wings that I'll render onto waste piles underneath where I feast. Before Long Cold Her and I make a child. Then both of us will Slow Time, do the least. Start of Long Warm She births a nipple thrived. Holds to her and her milk while she hunts Dark. Her rich sup will bring it up to see its mark. Wolfpack Contributor: Paul Brookes