“The Wild Animal” by Michael Hettich

Michael Hettich


They knock over everything, boys and girls,
hardly more than instruments waiting to be played;
hardly more than rivers waiting to be navigated,
waiting to be damned; hardly more than songs
waiting for their harmony; hardly more than eyes.
I lived inside the hope of rain, she says. I lived inside
the gesture of a fisherman casting out his line.
The bait was still alive and swam frantically and bled
as the tide reached its arms out and gathered up the seaweed
filled with tiny creatures and stories of the depth of things
where you and the other world, the one without end
without end became mesmerized, covered in a pelt of fur
no one had a name for. So they called you Wild Animal
and wondered what you’d do now, how you’d manage to survive,
and they watched you carefully, and they gave you fancy names
in an otherwise forgotten language, as they tracked your slow demise
otherwise known as extinction.


from Rattle #32, Winter 2009


Michael Hettich: “‘The Wild Animal’ comes out of a project I worked on during the summer of 2008, in which I made myself write at least one ‘poem’ every day and I didn’t allow myself to look back or revise until I had reached 200. The hope was to discover a way to go beyond my long-practiced techniques of revision, to get beyond certain habits of mind that felt limiting. I’ve saved approximately 60 of these pieces, of which ‘The Wild Animal’ is one.” (web)

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