A small boat: poems by Michael Hettich

By Michael Hettich

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Page 50 Lion for Burton Raffel Behind that door in a white room we keep a man who thinks he is a lion. You can see he's kept safe. He thinks he's a lion! Once he escaped and ran through the city. Disappeared. Changed his name. Actually this isn't him this is a lion. And this is a picture of the African plains. We'll slip it beneath his door now; he'll look at it smiling, draw an animal on it and himself running to catch it, slip the picture back under the door. Thus we study the workings of his mind.

In the mountains, a boy climbs a stone wall and walks along it deep into the woods, where he finds a rusted cage hanging from an ancient oak. White bones cover the floor of the cage. Acorns litter the ground. The boy stands there on the wall looking in and before he stops looking and wondering he has forgotten how to move. <><><><><><><><><><><><> Snow starts to fall, filling everything with emptiness.  My house was afire. My children were alone. I was walking huge circles, for the exercise.

Then a jet passed, very low and fast. We got down on our knees and covered our heads, my mother and I, the way I'd been taught at school. I showed her the proper way to kneel there. Then the jet was gone. Quiet. The air seemed like glass. We stood up and smiled at each other. She hugged me. I smelled something cooking, something Father loved to eat. 4. Hurt birds thrashing by the side of the highway as I hurry to work, radio blaring.  And then, like the click of a perfect lid, he disappeared. The ground, you told me, was littered with feathers.

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