Fall, Batfishing

by Jack Bedell

It all started as easily as the idea
of gravity — a football thrown at dusk
between low pines, the flutter that tracked it
almost to the ground, then the equation.

One boy went for the apple, the other the knife.
I was sent for my Zebco 808
because my house was closest and I moved
slow enough my mother never asked.

Before any of us could reason right from wrong,
before our mothers’ fear of rabies intruded,
the apple was on the hook and sailing up
into the trees.
                         What bit offered no fight.
It joined the dead weight of the apple and fell
to the street as helpless as a choupique born
without bones.
                            Having landed a creature
as alien to us as snow, we could not help
but scratch ourselves and gather. The parts of it
that showed — the cicious teeth and see-through wings —
should never have seen our flashlight’s beam.

The vision of it chased all of us back home
without even a poke of the knife or a taunt
for the thing. We left it there sprawled in the street.
It didn’t seem as hurried as you’d think,
nor as bitter at our sport as I would be.

Years later, alone in my college library,
I learned bats must fall into flight and know
nothing of the severity of ground.

Jack B. Bedell was born and raised in south Louisiana. He earned his B.A. and M.A. from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches before attending the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, where he earned his M.F.A. He now teaches at Southeastern Louisiana University where he serves as Editor of Louisiana Literature. His first book, At the Bonehouse, won the 1997 Texas Review Prize, and his chapbook, What Passes for Love, was the winner of the 2000 Texas Review Chapbook Competition.

from What Passes for Love (Texas Review Press), © 2001 by Jack B. Bedell. Used by permission of the author.