Us backwoods kids were taught early to harness the light;
trapping fireflies in jars, stabbing lids with screwdrivers.
_________________________Because mercy can be letting something breathe.
And we all remember the first time we were old enough
____________to light the fireworks ourselves.
_________________________When we learned how light brings faces skyward.
But trapping the night is trickier. There is more to the secret; something like dark
_______that can chase you up the stairs at night, make spots in your photographs.
_____________________________________________Something that makes noises
__________________________________________________________you’ve never
__________________________________________________________heard before.
And so, when the greyfolks on the old farms run out of plates to shoot,
or light to see the plates, floodlights burnt out or broken or cut-off,
___________________they hunt down their tackleboxes and poles,
____________________________________________and go bat-fishing.

It’s an evil sport, like soothsaying. Begging the dark to tell you something.
The closer you are to the night, the more it understands you. The closer you get
_________________________________________________________to catching it.
It’s like fly-fishing: Use a light hook and the strongest line you’ve got.
I’ve heard of a paperclip and bubble-gum, but these guys are liars.
Whip it around a bit. Make the night think the hook is something with wings.
_______________________________________When you catch one, you’ll know.
_______________________________________Reel it in. Prepare for a fight.
___________________________You should at least have some gloves on.
_______It should sound like teeth.
_______Like flags made of leather. _______Some scientists suspect eating bats causes
_____________________________________diseases we haven’t found causes for.
The meat is tough, and in such small portions. So give it back.

Cousins. Primates.
We evolved from bats.
_________________________Born from dark birds that live in the dirt.
_______________________________________________Dark birds with teeth.
You hold the beast in your right hand, part its jaws with your finger and thumb.
_____________With the left hand, go into the mouth,
_____________slip the hook out with a flick of the wrist like striking a match.
_____________Toss it back to the night. Watch the black dissolve.
____________________Show mercy to the darkness
____________________that has shown you none.

You can bear to part with it.

Michael Hurley