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Night Wings [May. 31st, 2006|04:03 am]
Last evening, as the clear sky darkened, becoming that deep blue in which the first stars kindle, and the green of the trees began to vanish, I saw quick fluttering wings of a slow-moving bird blacker than the darkening trees would soon be. The silent bird flew in a line, turned, and retraced its path. Then it went off at an angle, dropped a few feet, headed east and vanished over my house. A moment passed and it returned. It made quick veer and then another, then a swoop, then went upward and on toward the trees to the west. It made a sudden turn and then flew straight down halfway to the ground, another sharp turn, a climb, and it was all so odd that I suddenly realized that I had not been watching a bird, but a bat. Despite its peculiar movements, the creature was surprisingly graceful.

Its sudden shifts of direction and altitude marked the deaths of flying insects that I could not see. Around me I could hear the earthbound crickets fiddling their happy chirps while their airborne insect cousins became the bat's breakfast. As night deepened, the bat became a mere suggestion of fluttering movement, and at last I lost sight of it. I had the feeling it was still up there, though, moving back and forth, harvesting its unsuspecting prey. I wondered what kind of insects they were that flew so high to reach such an end. I imagined rapid, translucent wings glimmering in purple air. For a long time, I watched the waxing crescent moon gleam above the pines, but its light revealed no hint of the grace devouring grace between us. It's the nature of the moon to seem bright but reveal little. It merely ornaments the night and lets night keep dark secrets. My thoughts lack lunar softness, and still show me the shadow of the bat's fluttering wings.