Feathers were plucked from migrating birds by the newfangled winds, so those birds flew naked for a few moments. And as they fell someone else marveled at the beautiful day and thought about how wonderful he was to be marveling, while fur of the non-human animals blew away in that wind, so they walked around pink and vein-scribbled, suddenly causing us to wonder if the wind could blow backward, like a great inhalation, and rain could be sucked from the ground and the ponds until even the ocean rained upward—fresh water sucked from the salt. And might I remember my sweet baby brother, I ask myself now, who flickers like a fragment of dream passed down through thousands of moments until he is nothing but a bird blown naked to the ground, as the ocean throws its own naked fish against the shore and clouds flash nerves through the sky, as we pause for a moment to listen for the thunder, and wait for the rain to start falling and drench us?
Coming Back to Earth
In the life that’s my window to this one, I’m building a house with stones that look like snow when I fit them in place, but quickly melt away into perfect air before any of the walls has been fitted with doors and windows, air that will never be breathed and is solid as concrete but also transparent, like the life that’s my window to this one, where the crows are just shriveled old geezers wearing their own disappointments like black raincoats. And every cackle we suppress locks another door on the green fields that stretch out to the mountains where you ambled as a child in fragrant fields of wildflowers whose pollen made you dream you could be happy, though you still believe anything is possible. Touch me, you call to the wind who once played your brother, your mother and your dad; touch me, you whisper to the scrawny cat who leaps out and back in through your wound now, hunting secrets, purring to mimic the speech of a sleeper who calls from her dream while her snow-house melts and rushes like a river beneath her bed and the stars shine bright in their terrible sockets for proof that everything’s a gesture: these mountains, these rivers, these endless crow-filled woods we walk through, talking, pretending we’re not lost.
Michael Hettich’s recent books of poetry include Systems of Vanishing (Tampa Press, 2014), The Animals Beyond Us (New Rivers Press, 2011), and Like Happiness (Anhinga Press, 2010). In addition to Terrain.org, his poems have appeared in such journals as Prairie Schooner, Orion, Ploughshares, and Poetry East.