“The Bats in the Willow”, “Revenant Gloam” and “I Cannot Make Permanent Things”

Three poems by Melissa Mulvihill

The Bats in the Willow

Etched against the fading grey

Nestled deep in the hollow

Where the tree frogs hummed

And the spring breeze curled up to rest

Beneath the spindly branches of winter

sleeping in the sog and the bog on the banks of the creek

Is the willow

Where I paused

First to announce that winter

Is surrendering its icy grasp

To hope

To the breath of warm sun

The glowing green leaves

Begin their sweeping, falling

Journey as they reach and weep

My hand caresses the rough bark

Daylight has not released its charge

To dusk and the neighborhood basks

Rests suspended in the peace of

In between time

Glowing in the hominess of porch lights

Gathering stray kids exploring

Ready to lapse into quietude

I think my willow is slumbering

While bats dart, dash, and click

Their way in and around the willow

Throwing their questions, ideas, warnings

Like an old familiar life line

That commands and answers

Eluding disaster, adjusting course

Delivering messages that are always received

I wish I could echolocate

Under the willow, hidden in the soft rustling

Leaves the bats could teach me

To know before I asked

To aim and always achieve

To avoid before disaster

To intercept and redirect failed attempts of others

To think back, summon up, dwell upon,

I never know the way

Brilliant in the claimed night sky

The overture of the stars

Accompanies the creatures in the hollow

Urging while the evening wakes

Beneath the wispy fingers of the tree

On the mossy banks of the creek

Beneath the willow

Where I paused.

Revenant Gloam

She often attended my manic


“Invisible agent, unyielding meddler, the Past


its declarations

that it will expose me

obdurate specter

wretched wraith

manifesting hallways to pace

walls to scrape

air in which to shriek

precious objects to shatter

visions to pollute

with vague and false calls

palpable deception

stomping and rioting

lies in tongues

which terrorize this moment

in odious taunts

with incorporeal haunts

murking the reasons

for these visitations

these possessed spooks
these eidolons of pain

claiming me

during the

revenant gloam”

the silence sat

still and sullen and wrung out

“The ghosts don’t like you,” she mumbled finally

I reached for her


she had gone

She’ll be back.

I Cannot Make Permanent Things

Torrents of seasons

deposited the dregs and dross

perishable remnants

impermanent sediment

on the dislodged boards

and shifting ramp of the

tree fort

where I stand under sheets of rain

I cannot utter immutable words

Ephemeral and fugitive to the constant

slippery with the unconcluded

echoes of our voices

holding court

banishing bad guys

saving all manner of oppressed folk

justice delivered via

rules of the kingdom chalked on the walls

where squirrels now nibble

I cannot compel irreversible change

Unabiding residuum of

sheathed swords

retired buckets

smelly fish nets

careening in a monsoon

of honorable intentions

to seal the tree fort


when grander ideas

hailed the days

and the weeks

then the months and the years

I cannot navigate a perpetual path

Enduring rain altered the course of the

water that rages

neath the fort

wringing me out

pelting the remains of

my dam

so the trickle has deluged

into a gushing certainty

I cannot stop the drenching future

the rhythmic approaching of

the untried

the unfamiliar

unrelenting in its swirl about my ankles

eternal and undying

prevailing even without my readiness

to wash myself clean of

this March that rains down on me

while I fight to stay afloat

in the face of my recognition that

I cannot make permanent things

About the Author

Melissa Mulvihill

Melissa writes from northeast Ohio where she lives with her husband and sons, 18 and 22. She has been published in multiple issues of The Blue Nib Literary Magazine, The Blue Nib Intermission, The Write Launch Literary Magazine, Poet's Haven Digest, Strange Land Anthology, The Distance Between Insanity and Genius Anthology, and in the Dark and Stormy Night Anthology. Her poem, Your Phone Call, appeared in The Blue Nib 2017 Anthology. She writes about living with the fallout from a decade of treatment for stage 4 endometriosis, growing kids, and moments that demand telling from everyday life.