The creature my mother had been once was hiding in a supermarket magazine photograph, as though she were a stylish shoe; the animal my father had fancied as himself, was howling at the moon like the wolf in that famous ad campaign that taught us how to act wild and stylish at once, like a new kind of gesture. We had lost all the creatures that weren’t of our ilk, like we’d lost certain aunts and uncles to their snapshots. And then we started losing those animals inside us, as our sleep started dreaming in languages of follicle and cuticle, fingernail and ear wax, sand and snot. Until something moved around inside again, wilder than we’d ever been and almost as vivid as the world, and it hurt like language must have done once, or maybe even love.
Michael Hettich’s most recent book of poetry, Systems of Vanishing, won the 2013 Tampa Review Prize in Poetry and was published in April 2014. Other books include The Animals Beyond Us (2011) and Like Happiness (2010). His work has appeared in such journals as Orion, Poetry East, Ploughshares, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Sun, and The Notre Dame Review. He teaches English and creative writing at Miami Dade College and lives in Miami, where he is active in collaborations between writers and artists. His website is michaelhettich.com.
Photo of International Wildlife Museum diorama with grizzlies by Simmons B. Buntin.