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By Martín Espada

Oh  your hair! How I long to stroke your hair with the tip of my wing
like the giant in that book about mice and men, so I escape your attic,
a mouse with wings, soaring above the mousetraps smeared with
peanut butter in your kitchen. You shriek at me and hand the giant
standing next to you a bat, not a bat like me, but a bat for hitting
baseballs, now a bat to hit bats, so I sail high and away, four times
around the room, a fastball slipping from the hand of the sweaty pitcher
who puts the tying run on first in the ninth inning. You toss the giant
a bucket to catch me, and suddenly I am incarcerated up against
the wall, so I beat my wings inside the bucket the way a drummer
improvises a solo, a song for you that silences the chatter in the nightclub.
The bucket dumps me into the night air, a bat with vertigo, and I flap
away upside down, searching the darkness for the light glimmering
from your hair, like the waterfall in that cave where all good bats go to die.

Source: Poetry (October 2022)

Poet Bio

Martín Espada
The author of more than a dozen collections of poems, Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn to Puerto Rican parents. Before joining the faculty at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, he worked as a tenant lawyer for immigrants. Many of Espada’s poems arise from man’s inhumanity to man: racism against minorities of all kinds, civil liberties violations, and political persecution. One of poetry’s qualities, he has said, is to humanize. In the aftermath of 9/11, he noted, “Poetry gives a human face to a time like this. Poetry gives eyes and a mouth and a voice to a time like this. Poetry records a time like this for future generations who want to know about a time like this in terms of the five senses, and in terms of the soul.” See More By This Poet

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