Tuesday, September 25, 2018




A person put together like a bundle of sticks, tied tight with twine and leaned in a corner because he or she looks beautiful there. A person swept up like sawdust on the shop floor after a day spent building sturdy furniture.  Or a person imagined in the egg-filled nest abandoned in the live oak, a nest that will fall in the wind. I told you one morning a person is an empty train moving through the mountains at night and waking a woman who listens to the wind in the trees when the train has passed. She gets up and goes outside in her nightgown, walks across the chilly grass and steps into the creek that runs across her land. She stands there feeling the cold water and the stones, returns to her home and lies back down. Her skin is the color of a candle in the dark.

And you whom I've loved forever disagreed, asserting that a person is something else entirely, a subway car full of sweating strangers, rushing under the river at night while tugboats and tankers negotiate the currents and flounders look up from the mud. A person is the newspaper that falls to the floor, amongst all those aching subway feet, and a person is the woman who leans to pick it up, smoothes it gently and begins to read.

She will walk home soon through the balmy summer streets, to her husband who's cooking and singing as he waits for her. A person is the sidewalk that leads to her front stoop. A person is the music she hears in the distance, a song she remembers from church. She hums it, growing hungry as she walks. A person, I said then, is the glass of wine she savors, the bottle she shares with her husband. But another kind of person is the bike someone stole from the rack in front of the library, a bike which was given with love, for Christmas, that's being stripped now and spray-painted gold. On other days a person is more like the opossum with a baby in her pouch, who sniffs at the back door. We watch her push the garbage can around, trying to knock it over but afraid of hurting her baby if the can falls over on her, so she gives up and walks off across the weedy grass to look for papaya, broken open and rotting, or for mango and starfruit waiting in the bushes. A person is that appetite for sweetness in the dark.

Michael Hettich
Bluer and More Vast
Hysterical Books, 2018