And how bewildered is any womb-born creature that has to fly.
The bats who hang in the dark, chittering from our eaves, seem members of our house we haven’t yet had time to name. We feel them in the night air around us and catch a glimpse of the movement of their wings in the half-light of the moon. Mouse angels I have called them, terrifying and warm and mythical, seeming almost terrified themselves, skittering after the echoes of their own voices homing in on the smaller creatures of the night and also larger winged beings, hunting their bat blood to stay alive. This morning I found one of them asleep, hanging from the inside of a window screen in our half-dark bedroom, and wondered how it had gotten in and why it wasn’t sleeping with the other members of its choir, if it had been expelled or simply gotten lost. I covered it with a child’s plastic drinking cup and slid a large jack-of-diamonds playing card under the lip, then I carried it out to the yard. The bat landed on its back, spreading the intricate framework of its wings to right itself while I waited to see if it could fly, as I remembered reading that rabid bats can’t, and how my friend Ted, having been bitten trying to help a fallen bat, had needed a battery of painful injections to sear the rabies away. The bat struggled up on its pinions, dragging itself through the grass as if trying to reach me for help, but I, fearing disease and for our dogs, killed it with a shovel, not then knowing that a bat can’t take flight from the ground, must have a perch to receive the grace of air under its wings. I could have released it in the crotch of a tree, on a window ledge. . . . I picked up the skin of a ripped balloon on the tip of the shovel and carried it to the trash, protecting our house and this faltering world from what may have been just the physics of being a bat. Maybe the world won’t miss one bat. Maybe I did the right thing. But the world, my world, is missing it, crawling toward me for life.