Why My Parents Come Back to Life as Bats

Taylor Mali


It seems only fair, since we brained so many
with tennis racquets on the sleeping porch
when we were children, that my father,
who turned it into a game to keep my sisters
from crying about the killing of what might—
if it did not fly by night—be considered cute,
that he should come back to life after he died
with tiny dark wings and black eyes;

what is harder to explain is why my mother
might also come back as a bat, except that she
was loyal and graceful in her own way
when she flew, and she probably knew
that if we saw them both, as we sometimes do
on early summer evenings when they come
to bless the gathered family and our wine,
that we would let them live this time.



Taylor Mali is a poet and educator and one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series “Def Poetry Jam.” A four-time National Poetry Slam champion, he is the author of four previous collections of poetry and a book of essays, What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World. He curates the Page Meets Stage reading series in New York City and is the inventor of Metaphor Dice. These poems are also forthcoming in Taylor Mali’s book Late Father, published by Quercus.