Alison Dunhill

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On the Wing


On the Wing

Beard of stars, star-beard, Barbastelle,
a little white beard distinguishes you
from Pipistrelle and Daubenton or Serotine.
It sprouts under your face’s dark brown fur.
This face is a corbel to fend off evil spirits
taken from the west portal of Chartres. An ageing ET with
a tiny squashed nose, black, round shiny eyes and
enormous white-edged ears, which are needed for
your tracking of nocturnal insect life.
This combination of fur and wing disturbs like good
Your tessellated wings in outstretch are so fine,
they must have inspired Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome,
or at least the umbrella. And yes, you are a quadruped:
your front and rear stump-limbs elongate elegantly
into two rapturous wings,
which are huge in proportion to your kind-of-cosy furred body.
The three gently angled divisions of each wing
are surfaced in honeycomb mottling. The only mammal to fly.
This is, after all, a miracle.

Originally published in the Norfolk Coast Guardian, 2021

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