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Rasque

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In a cave on a farmer’s ancestral grounds,

we scrambled toward its darkest pit, soles

slipping on wet rocks, hands fumbling for walls

coated thick in — we later learned — guano,

and when we flooded the ceiling with light,

we gasped. Clustered by the dozen to share

body heat, they hung like chandeliers.

We prodded with flashlight beams,

swirled our wrists to mimic their swooping.

Bodies began to drop, one then another then another,

too small for a thud, some hairless and milky and still blind,

and we watched, not knowing

that when roused from torpor

they lose weeks of sustenance,

or how to stop the falling.

Note: rasque, n. from rue, to regret + bourrasque, a tempest (Koenig’s The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows 187)