Before we start shooting salt into the sky to cool the planet and cloud our days,
perhaps we should simply sit down in the shade with stories, of moons that break open into flowers, of foxes that sleep at the foot of our beds to keep our feet wild. And before we start dreaming
floating cities adrift on a rising ocean, perhaps we should undress ourselves of who we’ve become, slip out of the habits we’ve devised to feign our innocence, and swim out into the deeper water
until whatever’s still phosphorescent within us glows like small constellations beneath which the huge, warm-blooded swimmers, with minds and memories, and songs that might teach us new ways to hear, are moving through the darkness.
Imagine the feel of their huge backs rubbing against our pale feet, as they move on through the night.
When I reach home, I take off my sweats, release my undirected weather, empty the trash cans and make the many beds that are tumbled and tossed in the bedrooms inside me; then I drain the black oil and muzzle the guard dogs, who take themselves out for a walk while I cook up my socks and old shoes, humming an anthem I played for my friends in the dorm room—about freedom and dusty back roads to nowhere but some hobo’s secondhand life while I made up a career. It was there, I realize, that I lost the leather jacket that seemed to make me interesting, those slick boots whose heels won me arguments, that hat that made my long hair flow like potency itself, while I moaned the blues like a field hand and headed reluctantly off to my day-job delivering flowers to secretaries screwed by their bosses and housewives screwed by the suburbs. So I sit here naked as a chicken leg steaming on a dinner plate, a man sliding free of his sleeping bag naked as an earthworm, who stands now and walks through the trees looking for a path to the picnic and wondering whether that whispering in the distance is a waterfall or just another ravenous machine.
Michael Hettich’s most recent book of poetry, Bluer and More Vast, was published in the summer of 2018 by Hysterical Books. A new book, To Start an Orchard, which includes the poems published here, is forthcoming from Press 53. He has published poems and essays in many journals and anthologies. After thirty years living in Miami, he has recently relocated to Black Mountain, North Carolina.