by Theodora Goss
She lives in the darkness
of the cave. She hangs
upside down by her toes, she clutches
a fissure in the rock, the long nails
of her toes hanging on, the rest of her hanging
suspended, her wings lying along her back,
tipped with the claws of her bony hands,
her head swiveling
when her ears, large like palm fronds,
delicately veined, hear anything
at all, a pebble dropping from the cavern wall,
a drop of water falling from a stalactite.
She has soft fur, silky. Underneath
she looks like a woman, young,
thin, almost skin and bone.
She is always hungry. Moths
and such night-flying insects are not as filling
as you might think.
In the darkness of the cave, the bat-woman
hangs, listening, listening.
She can hear
what the stars sing.
(The image is a photograph of actress Marie Schleinzer in a bat costume, taken around 1900.)