AFTER THE RAINS
by Michael Hettich
So let’s say one sweaty morning you wake
in another person’s body, or you wake up without
any body at all, which means you start feeling things
as the air might do: the flight of birds
across your garden, even pigeons, makes you sing inside
your backbone; the delicate staccato of a lizard
climbing your kitchen window, the snakes
draped in your wild coffee, that come alive
like water when you step out. You feel that sometimes.
And so you walk slowly, feeling even what the beetles do
with their singular lives, and you feel what the spiders
intend by their webs, beyond hunger.
You study caterpillars, and you spend your evenings
imagining the lives of the creatures you rarely see,
hummingbirds and manatees, the foxes and opossums,
birds of lovely plumage, and you start to open up
to nothing you call it, but it’s not really nothing:
Squirrels are breathing right outside the window.
Birds are breathing as they fly across your roof.
You are the only person in your body
for a moment. What’s a moment? Where eternity resides
you think, and blush at your grandiose pretensions,
turning back, with relief, to the world.
(“After the Rains” was originally published in Perigee and is reprinted here today with permission from the poet.)
Michael Hettich’s most recent book of poems, Like Happiness, was published this past fall by Anhinga Press. A new book, The Animals Beyond Us, is forthcoming from New Rivers press. Today’s poem is from a manuscript in progress, tentatively entitled Systems of Vanishing. He lives in Miami and teaches at Miami Dade College.
Editor’s Note: Ah, a nature poem; a poem celebrating life and the earth! I came across Michael Hettich’s work in Perigee and was taken by all of it. The poems in that publication vary in style and theme, and I recommend heading over there after taking in today’s poem and reading them all. When I read Michael Hettich I feel alive, I ponder the nature of things, and I am renewed in my belief that life should be celebrated and the universe revered.