“The Hive”and “I Wake”by Michael Hettich

issue 85 back

Found in Willow Springs 85

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The Hive


Someone else’s loss, buzzing through the garden

like the bee that got under your shirt and landed

in your chest hair but didn’t sting; someone’s grief

right there like a stone in the almost-raining afternoon

with the smell of horse-sweat and mowed grass and hot

asphalt. You held my hand as we stood

at the fence and called out to those horses, and felt

the first raindrops and smelled the cooling road.

Someone else’s tragedy passing like an awkward truck

climbing our dirt road, unbalanced by the dead woman’s

bulky furniture, and the potholes. Someone else

looking out her window at the strangers standing

on the road squinting at her door as though

expecting it to open, then walking slowly on.

Down the hill, trucks rip out the clear-cut tree-stumps

and we think of the coyote who slunk across our yard

with a squirrel in its jaws, and we think of the bears

at our garbage. There were birds calling out like children

playing hide-and-seek, pretending to be hurt

somewhere deeper in the woods, and you tell me you love me

like fingernails, like hair; you love me like breath

when you’re sleeping, wrapped up in dust while the crows

in our closets make darkness from the clothes we never wear,

and the walls of our bedroom hum like swarming wasps.



I Wake


in the middle of the night to something moving

across the porch outside our bedroom,

sliding furniture around

and muttering. It’s raining, but I’m sure I hear footsteps,


so I hold myself still. The sprigs of flowering

dogwood my wife has collected glow

in the moonlight by the window; she snores peacefully

beside me. I’m naked. Today a red-tailed hawk


swooped across our garden, to vanish in the woods

before I was sure what I saw, so

I didn’t say anything. Later, we had dinner

with a friend who’s grown suddenly old, and as


we said our goodbyes, she told us again

about the day her husband left her,

out of the blue, when her adult children

were toddlers. It hasn’t stopped hurting she said

as she closed her front door. Driving home, I noticed


my wife was crying, face turned to the window.

I thought of pulling over, reaching out, asking her

to tell me what was wrong, but that road is difficult

to follow at night, and I wasn’t even sure


she was crying, after all, when I looked over again,

so I drove on in silence, keeping my eyes

on the road, respecting that darkness.

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