The Mist Netters

The Mist Netters

 By Davis McCombs

They stretched their web between two poplars

and across the cave mouth while dusk seeped

insatiably toward them, but now it’s dark,

and they are still fidgeting with tripods, headlamps,

packs stuffed full of gear.  Crouched on a rock,

I watched them trample through the ecotone

In lug boots, test flash strobes on the net.

Every year this exit count, a yield

of raw data in a spiral notebook jotted down

by lantern light.  Every year the hush that falls

until, like a splatter of rain, the first bats hurtle

into the hair-thin fibers.  Only the vaccinated

can come near enough to disentangle wings, claws,

and fit selected species with tiny transistors.

Up close, the bats are struggling, scrunch-faced.

They aren’t- am I alone in suspecting this?-

bats until we see them, nor afterwards,

when banded and released, they flop out

past the lantern’s scorch of light, past

our radio telemetry and over the visible

prongs of branches that tonight are tuning forks

the leaves reach out to touch and silence.

(With Permission from Dismal Rock, Tupelo Press, 2007)