» Poetry

Poems of Water

Shark Valley

We ride through the sawgrass, the only humans for miles,

as evening glistens in the shallow water,

 and thousands of white birds

 and gray birds

 and black birds
 land in the mangroves

 to roost for the night.

We talk and stay silent at once as we ride

and imagine wading into the grass

 through knee-deep water
 until we were far enough

 that everyone we’d ever known, everyone we’d loved
had forgotten us. And if we sat down in the water

 until our clothes fell away, and we sang

 to each other like the breezes across the tall grass,

going nowhere, and the minnows nibbled our bodies

 so gently it felt like a new kind of love,

 what could we say to the shadows waiting for us,

arms crossed and scowling, as though they owned our darkness?


Love Poem

The names we’ve never spoken, that define us to ourselves

like the rhythm of a river caught inside a stone

smoothed by that river, as it falls toward the sea.




In some other life, I wove grasses and lay down.

In some other life I made a nest, and slept

dreaming like a river, as it slides toward the sea.




How many years did we search to find our lives?

How many years do we have before we leave?

The singing of a river as it falls toward the sea




is a mind without thoughts, pure being, like the breeze

that wakes in your attic, or underneath your bed

and stirs up the dust, while you’re thinking of the sea




and hugging your wife, who’s dreaming in a language

that doesn’t have words yet, and gleams in her eyes

when she wakes in your arms, smelling faintly of the sea




and sunlight in the breeze as it moves through the bedroom

then back out the window, like life itself must leave

the body that held it, or like a wave far out at sea . . .


Michael Hettich

Michael Hettich's most recent book of poems, The Frozen Harbor, won the David Martinson/Meadowhawk Prize from Red Dragonfly Press, as well as a Florida Book Award Bronze Medal. Other books include Systems of Vanishing (University of Tampa, 2014) and The Animals Beyond Us (New Rivers Press, 2011).