Saturday, April 18, 2020

(COM)BAT STIGMA: A Pandemic (Soma)tic Ritual

I designed this (Soma)tic poetry ritual with David Greenspan, Marcella Haddad, Juleen Johnson, Jayson Keery, J.L. Lapinel, Laura S. Marshall, Michael Medeiros, Jamie Thomson, S.Coates

Bats have excellent eyesight, contrary to popular belief. They also have the extraordinary ability to echolocate, which is a form of seeing in the dark with ears. Bats can make the hidden world reveal itself, and this ritual honors their extraordinary abilities in a world filled with fear and ignorance for these flying mammals. Humans might want to blame bats for COVID-19, but we should be aware that our own human actions are the cause -- the coronavirus is not the bats’ fault.

Listen to a recording of bat sounds. This one includes echolocation and screeches at THIS LINK. Think about what bats are doing with their sounds. Think about how sounds can travel through air and bounce off of objects, echoing back at you. This is their way of seeing! 

Sit in a closet or a darkened room. Close your eyes, and begin to listen, even if you believe there is little to hear. Allowing the deeper listening, locate layers of sound, and look for what you might ordinarily hear. Take notes for the poem. Make clicking sounds and listen for an echo. In a world where we are now told to pay attention to the microscopic levels on which we are all interacting, think about how sounds also connect us, how sound is physical, how sound can be our guide. How sound is something we can sit in.

Wear a bedsheet as wings and fly around the house, flapping your wings, then suddenly pull the sheets around you and squeeze yourself, holding tight. Hold tight like a mother bat to her baby. Hold tight like someone who may feel lonely, longing for the other, but who is also resting in aloneness, feeling the deep presence and company of themselves. Take more notes. Lie on the bed with your head over the edge to look at the room upside-down. Take notes from the upside-down world.

In the evening, say, "Good morning, bats!" In the morning, say, "Good evening, bats!" If you find yourself waking up suddenly in the middle of the night you can say, “Good afternoon, bats!” until you fall asleep again.

Bats pollinate hundreds of plants that we use for food and medicine, including cocoa. Strange how echolocate and chocolate have a similar ring to them! Draw bat wings with chocolate on your arm or on bread. Lick the chocolate off your arm, or eat the bread. Take notes. A cherry or other fruit can represent the coronavirus. Cover the cherry in chocolate and tell the bats, "It is not your fault," and then slowly eat it. Take notes. Be still, then fly around the house again. Take notes.

PHOTO CREDIT Michael Medeiros


We hope you found the ritual to be fruitful. To further support bats please: 

Don’t use pesticides in your garden! 

If a bat flies into your home, choose the humane way of releasing it by turning on the lights (turn off ceiling fans!) and opening a door or window, OR, wait for it to land, gently cover it with a box, slip some cardboard between the wall and box in order to transport and release it outdoors. Take notes for the poem.  If you prefer professional assistance, ask that they be humane!

Plant a moon garden! Night-scented flowers attract bugs, such as moths, that bats love to eat. White jasmine, evening primrose, mint, lemon balm, datura, moonflower, four-o’clock, yucca, night-blooming water lily, night-blooming jessamine, cleome, barrel cactus, nicotiana. 

Build a bat house! Finds instructions at THIS LINK

Become a member of the Bat Conservation Group at THIS LINK

PHOTO CREDIT Michael Medeiros