Letter to America: The Poem "Big Bend" by Michael Hettich

Letter to America by Michael Hettich

One Poem

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Big Bend

Driving through the desert, we think of the children
deciding to lie down for a rest, holding hands.
We wonder at their parents. We are driving to the river,
cool and relaxed, squinting in the early sun
despite our dark glasses. We want to touch the river,
maybe wade there, lie down in the cool water
and let ourselves be carried down river. We want to
echo our voices against the canyon walls.
We think of the children, and their parents, setting out
across the wide desert, still cool and dripping
from crossing the river. Sheep graze on the other side
as we sit in the shade of the canyon, cool
from the river though the day’s already burning
and somewhere the children are walking, holding hands,
thinking of the river, their parents and home
as they look across the desert and seem to see a river
quivering the air like a dream. We are driving,
cool and refreshed and talking of our plans
for when we get home from the desert; we are listening
to music or news of what’s happened far away
but we’re thinking of the river and the canyon, and of
the children walking slowly, holding each other
across the wide desert, alone.




Michael HettichMichael Hettich’s most recent book of poems, The Frozen Harbor, won the 2016 David Martinson/Meadowhawk Prize from Red Dragonfly Press as a 2017 Florida Book Award (bronze). Other books include Systems of Vanishing (Tampa Review Prize, 2014), The Animals Beyond Us (New Rivers, 2011), and Like Happiness (Anhinga Press, 2010). His work has appeared widely in journals.

Read poetry by Michael Hettich previously appearing in Terrain.org: two poems and one poem.

Header photo of the Rio Grande at Big Bend National Park by Goodfreephotos_com, courtesy Pixabay.

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Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.