October 31, 2009KR BlogKR

Happy Halloween; or, Bats: Homophone for Happiness; No Scary

(5 bats around longevity)

Today I learned on NPR that in China a bat is considered a sign that something good is on its way. This is because the word for bat in Chinese (bianfu) contains within it a homophone for happiness (fu). Although still sometimes misunderstood or maligned, this small winged mammal was able to shift its negative image to a symbol of luck through the power of a word.

Happy Halloween, Chiroptera!

The Fruit Bat

Because the air has darkened
like bruised fruit, you creep
down the bare branch

where you slept all light long,
gathered into yourself like a fig.
Little mandarin woman fleeing

under the stars on bound feet,
when your wings spring open
even you look surprised.

What are the raven’s slick feathers
beside these pewter sails
raised in the foundry of your flesh,

burnished by light poured
from a wasted moon and a dipper
brimming with darkness?

(Nancy Willard)

* * *

Not only must you choose the path of trick or treat tonight, the poet Zachary Schomburg reminds us that another choice is also facing us: Scary or No Scary.


One night, when
you return to your childhood
home after

a lifetime away,
you’ll find it
abandoned. Its

paint will be
completely weathered.

It will have
a significant westward lean.

There will be
a hole in its roof
that bats fly
out of.

The old man
hunched over
at the front door
will be prepared
to give you a tour,
but first he’ll ask
Scary, or no scary?

You should say
No scary.

(In Typo and Schomburg’s book: Scary, No Scary.)

* * *

Happy Halloween, ghosts and flowers!

ghosts and flowers cupcakes