Notes From the Bat

On finding our way in the dark.

monochrome shot of a colony of bats hanged in a cave

It isn’t you this call is for, but since you’re so intent on listening, I might as well tell you––

I feel this grain-sized ear you glued to my back. I see them on the backs of some of the others, too.

Yes, I see them, but you’ll probably miss the nuance here. We hunt tiny insects in a pitch-black cave, but you––obsessed with the light you’ve equated by mistaken metaphor to some salvation––miss this point, too. 

Look, it’s not that we don’t see you trying. It’s just––sigh. I mean, you look at the sky sometimes, too, right? When was the last time you glimpsed the Milky Way? Consider this: that light traveled billions of years across distances too big for you to imagine, only to be washed out in the last fraction of a second by the glow of a Wal-Mart parking lot. I’m trying to use terms you can understand. 

Suggestion: try reciprocating?

You used to be here with us. Listen, I am trying to tell you––

You can’t hear any of this, can you?  Still, you might. 

Listen, try turning the light off. Stop stopping your ears.

We’re here. Stay a little while. 

But–– Shhhh. I am trying to hear the others, too.


Inspired by Ed Yong’s recent Atlantic article, “How Animals Perceive the World.”

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

2 thoughts on “Notes From the Bat”

  1. I love that you have written this piece from the bats’ perspectives. It’s absolutely charming but, of course, has its serious side. The article was fascinating but sad at the same time. I’m not sure how I feel about tagging, though. I guess there are good reasons. I’m aware of light pollution but have thought of it affecting bats. We see fewer stars in the night sky than we used to, which is a shame. My father used to love astronomy and had his own telescope and other equipment. We were allowed to go out into the back garden with him, and he taught us all about the night skies, the moon and the stars. I loved it. Thanks for sharing. X

    1. Ellie, thank you for sharing this. I used to find myself very envious of people who had grown up learning about the night sky. Now my little one is a budding astronomer, so we learn a lot together. I was amazed to learn about the difference that simply switching to red light would make (for the bats and astronomers, at least). xoxo

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