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Portugal visto por escritores estrangeiros

The Bats at Faja Ovidivdor

by Kathleen Willard

The ocean today is perfect for suicides

said twice by the waiter and translated

by a friend from the Portuguese

and the water rages over the highest cliffs,

the boats dry docked,

and no one swims in the ocean today.

It’s true around the festa for Our Lady of Sorrows

the residents expect a death

as summer moves swiftly to fall

and flocks of bats

threshold between dusk

and darkness

like a sudden fog.


We shoo them away

for the gods turned ill mannered suitors into bats

and dispatched them to the Underworld

and none of us want to be reminded of the dark places

too soon and think of bats as undesirables,

vermin and grotesques

wishing them back into the opaque


unimpressed by the bat’s utility -

insect hunters that echolocate their kills

devouring their weight daily outside our patios,

protectors of rare books in library at Mafra

from bookworms and silverfish

overshadowed by their thin leathery wings like rickety

paper fans or walking on their toe nailed wings

We do not recall the unusual facts from our schoolbooks

their altruistic duty to pollinate

so the world flowers into fruit,

only their place in the universe as perfect exterminators

and the creepy stealth

as they fly out of the night

and over our heads.

by Kathleen Willard

(Written in the Azores on a visit to Tony Roma’s family home. We meet at the first Disquiet)

Kathleen Willard, MA Middlebury College, MFA Colorado State University, remembers her attendance at The Disquiet International Literary Program as a defining moment in her writing life.  Forty of her poems have appeared in  literary magazines and anthologies including: Bombay Gin, Matter, Proud to Be, and Landscape and Place. Her awards include a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship to travel and write in India, attendance at Vermont Studio Center twice, the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference twice, and her poem “Theory of Flight, Circa 1704” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, published in The Progenitor and won the ACC Writer's Studio Prize.
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