The Garden

If you could be a feather in a raven’s black wing,
indistinguishable from the others, alive as wings must be
as the raven caws its mind from a tree
filled with other ravens. If you knew the feeling
of wind through that wing. If you could be the beak
of that raven, or the raven’s eye, if you could be
the way the raven—any raven—thinks, if you could be that
thought and still be who you are now, sitting
in an easy chair reading. If you could be a whole flock
of ravens ripping the swollen carcass of a deer
far from any town. If you could be the blackness
of a raven at night. But your book has nothing
to do with birds or darkness; it’s a novel
about travel and love you suspect you’ve read
before, more than once. Outside, the caterpillars
and brightly colored worms are feasting on your lemon tree.
They eat the new leaves to the nub and then fold themselves
tight and sleep. And you will hope to watch them
emerge as butterflies, as though the world were still intact,
which perhaps it is. The way you are reading
makes a kind of closet: there are snakes out there too,
in the garden, black snakes that can feel you move
through the air you both breathe. They feel you as an animal.
You might learn to think like the garden instead,
through which all those breezes are running.

Michael Hettich’s most recent book of poetry, The Animals Beyond Us, was published in fall 2011 by New Rivers Press. His chapbook The Measured Breathing won the 2011 Swan Scythe Press Chapbook Contest. He lives in Miami with his family.