Published on Academy of American Poets (

Ode to Sitting in a Booth

It’s the closest thing to a cave. I have to resist
this wild urge to carve a name or word in it.

My favorite way to sit here is with cold vodka
& grapefruit juice & whatever bitter concoction

you’re sipping. Under the table I’ll nudge you
with my heels—a sign no stalactite or dripstone

will stop us. Bats do not require any energy
to claw-dangle upside down. All they need

is to relax & gravity & there’s plenty of both
swirling to go around. No matter how loud

this bar, within these three walls we can drop
straight into a very electric flight. We can

pretend we don’t answer to anyone–including
the waitress–& no one even knows where we are.


Copyright © 2021 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 26, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote this after a visit to the Memphis Zoo (during pre-pandemic times) and I was watching Egyptian fruit bats sleep in the 'Animals of the Night' exhibit. I knew that bats can hang upside down because their body weight keeps their claws closed so they can relax, drift to sleep, and dangle—but that was the first time I could see this with the bats up close. And when I was writing, I just wanted to capture again the feeling of being in a restaurant—feeling carefree—for just a moment.”
Aimee Nezhukumatathil


Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of many books, including World of Wonders (Milkweed Editions, 2020), a NYTimes bestseller which was named Barnes and Noble's Book of the Year. She is professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi and lives with her family in Oxford, Mississippi.

Date Published: 2021-03-26

Source URL: