Bats and Swallows

abstract illustration with bat wing and swallow
Paul Spella / The Atlantic

Whatever the difference might be
to one who knows,
we couldn’t see
from where we stood in soft shadows
any signs that they were swallows

or bats. That there were wings
was without doubt;
you could see small pointed things
swooping out
into the gloaming—

and sometimes back.
One seemed almost iridescent
as I tried to track
its crescent
flight across the hill. The lack

of sound suggested
bats to me;
you strained to see if they nested
somewhere below the
terrace, having rested

your case on swallows.
We couldn’t be sure
either way—and so it follows
that neither of us knows.
But since it is in your nature

always to side one way
or the other, you hold
that they were swallows. I say
the question never gets old,
that either, or both, hold sway.