Love Poem
Michael Hettich

Love Poem

            for CH

If every word is a path, and every
silence a glimpse of the sky, we’re walking
farther now, under more fragrant trees,
though we move more slowly, resting by the side
of the road, waving to strangers and old friends
as they drive off to work, or to foreign countries
where no one knows them. And if we sit long enough
to gather our strength, and sit with that strength
until it becomes who we are now, we start
to hear the weather moving through the trees,
a distant waterfall, or a snake through the leaves,
its gleaming. We also listen to the birds
begin to forget we are here; we hear
the wilder mammals, who think like we do,
and see us as ghosts now. I can only hold you
I say to myself, which is almost the same
as speaking to you, but I can’t take your pain
away, and I want someone bigger than we are
to cover us both like a blanket, or fill us
with a music to cancel everything else
we’re feeling.
Soon we will get up and walk
a bit farther, looking for a clearing with a lake
as warm as our blood; we’ll swim out into
the middle, to find its shallow core
where we’ll stand with only our heads poking out
and feel the minnows nibbling our legs
and laugh at their gentle tickling, then turn
and swim back to shore, just a few strokes away,
to watch as the evening fills the spaces
between things; we’ll listen to the night creatures
wake up and sing until morning.

Michael Hettich

has published a dozen books of poetry, most recently The Distant Waterfall, winner of the 2020 Lena Shull Book Award from the North
Carolina Poetry Society. A "new and selected" volume is forthcoming in 2023. His work has appeared widely in journals, as well as in a number of anthologies.