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Clade Song 13


-for Emily, of course

Called my cousin up—a blare of classic rock
she told me “Hang on. I have to turn this radio
down—we got bats in the walls and we’re trying
to drive them back to the attic where they

belong.” The echolocation making the house
feel more haunted than it already was by their dead
cats coiling between my ankles hours before dawn,
anxious replications of life already lived. There’s

something strange in this, something I miss, twang
of uncle’s claw hammered string adjacent to the music
of my dad’s tool belt, the endless repairs to old houses
their own refrains. What was done decades past must

be done again. And then, there’s the unexpected tonic
of bats dropping from the attic into where a Victorian
lady might have hid, knocking and banging and moaning
her friend’s séance, chiming the light bells in rhythm

with whatever gone was asked for, echolalia to fill
the silence of the dead. I remember the paper bats she’d
decorated with last I was there on Halloween. What a neat
thing: to live with something bothersome, and love it.  


Kate Polak is an artist, writer, and teacher. Her work has recently appeared in Plainsongs, McSweeney’s, So to Speak, Coffin BellThe Closed Eye Open, Inverted Syntax, and elsewhere. She lives in south Florida with her familiars and aspires to a swamp hermitage.