Three New Poems by Ursula Le Guin
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When I used to see bats flying
in the California twilight
their intricate zigzag voices
went flickering with them
but they fell silent with the years
and without that tiny sonar static
to see them flicker
in and out of being
is a kind of blindness
In the twilight in my dream
a little bat was flying
and awakening I wondered
if the bat that I remembered
flying in the twilight
of the dream of California
was in California or the dream.
I am such a long way from my ancestors now
in my extreme old age that I feel more one of them
than their descendant. Time comes round
in a bodily way I do not understand. Age undoes itself
and plays the Ouroboros. I the only daughter
have always been one of the tiny grandmothers,
laughing at everything, uncomprehending,
Remember me before I was a heap of salt,
the laughing child who seldom did
as she was told or came when she was called,
the merry girl who became Lot’s bride,
the happy woman who loved her wicked city.
Do not remember me with pity.
I saw you plodding on ahead
into the desert of your pitiless faith.
Those springs are dry, that earth is dead.
I looked back, not forward, into death.
Forgiving rains dissolve me, and I come
still disobedient, still happy, home.
About the Author
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (1929–2018) was a celebrated and beloved author of 21 novels, 11 volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, 12 children’s books, six volumes of poetry and four of translation. The breadth and imagination of her work earned her six Nebulas, seven Hugos, and SFWA’s Grand Master, along with the PEN/Malamud and many other awards. In 2014 she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and in 2016 joined the short list of authors to be published in their lifetimes by the Library of America.
“Bats,” “Ancestry,” and “Looking Back,” are published here by permission of The Estate of Ursula K. Le Guin. Copyright © The Estate of Ursula K. Le Guin 2018. All rights reserved.