Until Then

My son has reached the age
when he no longer needs a fake ID

to enter a bar. He tells me
his generation’s screwed and the world

will end in his lifetime. He may be right.
But I wish he’d come into the garden with me

to watch the little brown bats return at dusk
after years of flying through other yards—

I’d thought they were gone forever, done in
by a fungus. Yet here they are, unannounced,

two of them dancing, sometimes together,
sometimes apart, in an airborne pas de deux.

They do not question the power of air to lift them,
the continuing fecundity of insects, the welcome

of attics with broken panes and playhouses
whose children have grown up and moved out.

Some nights they come late, almost
full dark, and I cannot be sure they are not

gone again—not ill, not dying. Still,
I tell my son, it must be better to do what we can,

to fill the bird bath with water and the garden
with dahlias and thyme and those pale

yellow lilies that open at night. Send
letters to our legislators. And wait in the evening

for the occasional miracle of their dizzying flight.


Travel Notes from the River Styx, Susanna Lang’s fourth collection of poems, has recently been published by Terrapin Books. Tracing the Lines (2013) is available from Brick Road Poetry Press. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Little Star, New Letters, and Poetry East. She teaches in the Chicago Public Schools.


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