Daun Daemon – Bats


Mama thought they were bats, the black specks
that swirled in the wintertime over the smokestack
at the cotton mill beyond the railroad tracks

An eight-year-old scientist, I stood fascinated
as I watched them swoop, rise, dip, twirl, and spread,
shape shifting like faint faces in a cloud

My sisters said they would get tangled in my hair
or, worse, smell my flesh and fly my way to bite my neck,
suck my blood like a Dark Shadows vampire

Those mean teen sisters stayed hidden in the house,
wary of being seen wearing their transforming mud masks,
heads clutched by tightly wound brush rollers

They teased me as relentlessly as they teased
their 60s bouffant styles — the beehives and bird’s nests —
taunting me with tales of little girls eaten alive

But I wasn’t scared of those bats diving into my hair,
flapping and squealing with mammalian joy as they burrowed in,
better playthings than nail polish and Dippity Do

Now I know they were not bats but common chimney swifts
not exiting the smokestack to hunt but returning to roost for the night,
tucking into the warm, dropping-spattered walls

When darkness fell and the winged creatures vanished,
I crept inside to watch my sisters scrubbing away their masks,
to see again that they were just plain girls like me



Daun Daemon’s fiction has appeared in Flock, Dead Mule School, Literally Stories, and Delmarva Review among others, and she has published poems in TypishlyPeeking Cat Poetry, Third WednesdayTypehouse Literary Review, Remington Review, Deep South Magazine, and other journals. A native of the North Carolina foothills, Daemon is currently at work on a memoir in poems as well as a short story collection inspired by her mother’s beauty shop. She teaches scientific communication at NC State University and lives in Raleigh with her husband and three cats. 

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