Upon Hearing Bats Trapped In The Attic, I Professed Myself A Loyal Adulteress

Anna Rose Welch



You heard their indecisive wings opening in the beams and thought the house was eroding from the ceiling down. That this fumbling choir was caged between my hips in your hands and my heart. You let some damned blind hope force you down to the arches of my feet, pressing them to your ear until they were repeating Vienna, Vienna which became your name, which became better marry than be lost. I’ve never quite gotten it right—how to speak this reckless thrashing below my throat. If I didn’t like what speechlessness meant, I’d keep holding your hands until I felt my palms gape open, ecstatic, and I’d push that damn, dogged meaning against the wall to keep it still.  

// first draft

I professed myself a loyal adulteress, because you heard them too, crashing into the beams and said the house was eroding from the roof down—just listen. Because you heard this lying next to me and couldn’t tell if it was coming from above or inside me, assuming it was the sound of my throat when I spoke to you. In my imagination, you held the arches of my feet to your ear and heard them repeating the names of European cities—Vienna, Vienna, the place you will only ever associate with love. This is how pleasure came to be described as furious—because bats become even more blind in a small space for the pleasure of crashing into something more stubborn than their own bodies. If I knew what that meant, I’d keep holding your hands and push that meaning against the wall to keep it still.


Anna's Commentary

This poem came to being after I read a book called Against Love, by Laura Kipnis. I wrote the poem in response to a quote that struck me: “Perhaps love affairs are for saying the unsayable.” I wanted this poem to be a narrative, which is why prose felt—and remained—the most appropriate form. The first draft was simply my attempt at getting the concept and the metaphor in one place on the page. Like many first drafts of mine, version one contained most of the pieces, but the artistry, specificity, and music took the backseat to the basic elements of the narrator’s story. Similarly, in first drafts, my narrator’s voice/personality are often slow to emerge from the poem. She imagines and supposes and ponders — she very rarely asserts herself on the first try. Even the title of the first draft is seemingly innocuous with the narrator’s proclamation being tucked into the first line of the poem. In revising, I not only decided to move the proclamation up into the title, but I also chose to eliminate the repetitive “because” structure at the opening to give the narrator more agency. She wasn’t professing herself a loyal adulteress because her partner was observing the changes in the home/the relationship. She chose instead to say the unsayable all on her own, and in doing so, I think she became a much bolder, authoritative figure in the poem.



Anna Rose Welch is a violinist and editor in Erie, PA. She holds an MFA in poetry from Bowling Green State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2014, The Kenyon Review Online, Guernica, Barrow Street, Crab Orchard Review, The Paris-American, and elsewhere.