Bats in the Sanctuary
Evan Sheldon

Some flew out when  
he opened the doors, 
a hundred hundred of them. 
Like angry bits of dark they 
swooped and rolled, eyes  
of crystallized ash. I  
don’t know why they roosted 
in the sanctuary, and neither did 
my father. But he laughed  
at them as he might  
at a too-strong gust of wind.  

I was old enough to know 
the bats drank blood and hung 
unnaturally upside down,  
like Peter’s cross. I  
knew their leaflet tongues cut 
sharp like sin. 
They didn’t belong 
in a place of communion.   

When I hung back, 
afraid of the church at night 
and the sound of fluttering wings, my  
father lifted me up to his chest. 
His heart beat slow as mine 
rattled, and I could feel them both—out 
of sync but nearly touching— “Beautiful,  
aren’t they,” he whispered. 
He set his eyes forward,  
and together, we walked out 
among them.  

He Lights a Fire
Evan Sheldon

He lights a fire in the alley, 
building walls scraping 
upward like sheer 
rock faces in  
snow-swathed mountains he cannot  
see. The fire 
spits and pops and chuckles 
consuming bits of trash 
and old damp things. 
It flickers—a tiny wild  
hungry and hesitant 
thing he’s created.  

She lays next to him, 
next to the fire but 
doesn’t see. She’ll 
remember the fire tomorrow, 
if she wakes, if the cold 
doesn’t take her. She’ll 
smell it on herself  
over the drink, 
over the stink of herself.  

He conjures the fire 
again and again every 
night and huddles near her while shadows 
leap and dance and menace 
on the alley walls. He’ll 
save her every night and  
that is how she saves him. 

Evan Sheldon Pic.jpg

Evan James Sheldon's work has appeared in Spelk, Poetry Super Highway, Flash Fiction Magazine, among others. He is a junior editor for F(r)iction.