Two Poems by Michael Hettich

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The Inner Life of Wind

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, his poems have appeared in such journals as Prairie Schooner, Orion, Ploughshares, and Poetry East.

Read poetry by Michael Hettich previously appearing in

Photo of black wing and feathers by Pan Xunbin, courtesy Shutterstock. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.