A small boat: poems by Michael Hettich

By Michael Hettich

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Sample text

At night there were new stars.  They rejoiced! We still do. Page 22 Down at the Docks You find yourself rolling loaded dice in an old boat, down in the cave where the crewmen sleep. Fish seem to swim in the air around you, attracted, you imagine, to your voice. They dart away at the sharp sound of the dice and hang as shadows, part of the darkness. The men pretend to pay you what they owe you and then they pretend to go to sleep. She was buying a flank of fish when you emerged from belowdecks, black suit and dark glasses slightly steamed, pockets bulging.

6. Clouds change to swans across your eyes. Page 13 Summer Rain Today you drifted away as though our bed were the dock I saw a man dive off once and swim without looking back far out, into the current's propellers and swirl.  So I stared hard at the buildings, the jets and the boats, and as I did so his image grew clearer.  I remembered a name, a family, bits of a childhood, so I took off my old clothes, changed into his and thought of the shade your eyes would turn, deep blue, when you saw me in a new suit as I walked home through the summer rain.

3. It was late afternoon. We were waiting for my father. There was a tiger, she said, in her closet, way back behind everything. We went back there, down a damp trail, stood watching this huge flame pace back and forth behind a window. No, it was a cage; I'm sure I remember daring my hand through the bars . . A yellow warmth . . The closet glowed. Mother's face looked harsh in the tiger light, but she turned to me, smiling. Smell of candle wax, of wet nylon stockings . . Then she smoked a cigarette and cried softly, smiling down at me.

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