A cold morning, and no coal
for the classroom grate.
I was chosen, with two others,
to crawl beneath the building
and fill our tin buckets
with black lumps of fuel.

The door of the cellar opened
to a smell of dust and stone.
Light fell in, grainy as soot.
A shadow peeled from a beam
and quivered in a corner
out of reach and sight.

I knew the mouse-like features
from a book, its webbed wings
folded like a sleek umbrella
about its elfin ears. No one else
saw it. No one believed. They laughed
and said, There are no bats round here.

But I remember it as clearly
as if we’d sat down to tea together
and told each other stories.
Some things only you can see.
Trust the evidence of your senses.
I am certain of this

because when I was eight years old
in the musty air of the coal store
at the school’s stone root
this knowledge flew into me
a velvet whisper
insistent as echoes.

Lyn Reeves

Listen to Lyn reading Certainty (1:24).


Lyn Reeves has read at festivals and venues around Australia, received Arts Tasmania and Australia Council grants and several residential fellowships. Her poetry collection Designs on the Body (Interactive Press 2010) won the IP Picks Poetry Prize, 2010. Her eighth and most recent collection is Field of Stars (Walleah Press 2019).

© text and audio 2020