A group of us went 
into that abandoned mine
in the low mountains west of Tucson, 
crouched on all fours
down the length of the long shaft.
I was behind you, you didn’t realize — 
I was always behind you — 
when someone up front
started screaming about bats. 

On they came, a river of bats 
filling the narrow gap 
between head and the jagged roof. 
You shined your light up to see 
the furred bodies, the leathered wings, 
an endless stream, and started to laugh. 

Not one touched my hair, 
or brushed my skin as they passed overhead. 
You turned back and saw me, 
smiled that toothsome smile of yours — 
I confess I fell in love again. 

At the end of the shaft, an open room,
we could finally unbend ourselves,
see the marks from pick axe,
the crushed beer cans from prior expeditions. 

We lingered in this small womb
beneath the desert, perfectly cool, 
got baked, played the light 
across each others’ faces,
all the while knowing our only way out 
was back down that long tunnel,
the traverse we’d have to make 
to be reborn as the people 
we’d both come to hate.