Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

“Frenchman’s Flat”

Andrea Spofford writes poems and essays, some of which can be found in The Portland Review, Sugar House Review, Puerto del Sol, Revolver, Composite: Arts Magazine, Redactions, and others. She is the author of two chapbooks: Everything Combustible (Dancing Girl Press) and Qikiqtagruk: Almost an Island  (Red Bird Chapbooks). Her first full-length book, The Pine Effect, will be published by Red Paint Hill Publishing on April 1, 2015. A native Californian transplanted to the South, Andrea is now an assistant professor of English at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville and serves as poetry editor of Zone 3 Press.

Frenchman’s Flat

When the sun sets everything lingering before it disappears—a rock, trees—outlined by black, orange against gray. Bats flash in dim light.

At Frenchman’s Flat on Piru Creek there are large, flat boulders. If you jump stones will hit the arches of your feet and you will buoy back, light.

In Texas river country bats flock at night, cover bridges, rush from mouths of caves, chase remnant sun.

Sometimes I think about tall grass and beer from the bottle, the dirt road Tiki Motel where we listened to cowboy songs, curtains open to neon. 

Mexican free-tailed bats pour from Bracken Cave, swirl upward toward shadow branches in swarms. They cover the sky, fracturing light.

There are thirty-one kinds of bats in Texas. In California only one, a small colony, snub-nosed as dogs, nests in rafters over my porch.

I want to tell you about sinking ships—Andrea Doria, Monitor, RMS Rhone. I want to tell you about black holes, twenty-million bats in darkness.

We never see bats. We go to Frenchman’s Flat and sit on the rocks but the water is cold. Instead of swimming we lie on the stones, prone to light.