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Elegy

Michael Hettich
Michael Hettich
  • We walked the city after dark, talking
  • about the things that mattered to us then:
  • the most vivid ways to live, how to keep the fire
  • ablaze inside; the girls we’d loved, the women
  • we’d meet someday. We might even build
  • a house, we dreamed, with all our other friends,
  • out in the country, or maybe we’d move
  • to some other country, away from all the clutter
  • and flash. We smoked a joint and sat
  • on a stoop and sang to the darkness. We’d decided
  • to walk till first light, for the mildly wild adventure
  • of watching an entire winter night.
  • Toward dawn we passed a church
  • and stopped to admire it and heard
  • a woman singing inside, high pitched
  • and thin as the glow from the moon against
  • those stained-glass windows. We stood still
  • and listened hard as flurries started.
  • We watched our breath rise and mingle,
  • the buzzing of the streetlamps
  • as loud as her voice. I wanted to sing back to her,
  • but she would never hear, so I started
  • to hum. You hugged me then on the sidewalk,
  • old friend, in, your peacoat; you kissed my frozen ears,
  • my forehead. Your breath smelled like wet wool — I remember
  • that well, after all these years — and you told me
  • you loved me. I said the same to you,
  • though I couldn’t have meant it. Did you? We were just boys.

Michael Hettich’s most recent books are Like Happiness (Anhinga, 2010) and The Animals beyond Us (New Rivers, 2011). His most recent chapbook is The Measured Breathing (Swan Scythe Press, 2011). “Elegy,” which originally appeared in The Sun, is part of a new manuscript entitled The Purposeful Hum. He lives with his wife Colleen in Miami and teaches at Miami Dade College.

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Michael Hettich
Michael Hettich
  • We walked the city after dark, talking
  • about the things that mattered to us then:
  • the most vivid ways to live, how to keep the fire
  • ablaze inside; the girls we’d loved, the women
  • we’d meet someday. We might even build
  • a house, we dreamed, with all our other friends,
  • out in the country, or maybe we’d move
  • to some other country, away from all the clutter
  • and flash. We smoked a joint and sat
  • on a stoop and sang to the darkness. We’d decided
  • to walk till first light, for the mildly wild adventure
  • of watching an entire winter night.
  • Toward dawn we passed a church
  • and stopped to admire it and heard
  • a woman singing inside, high pitched
  • and thin as the glow from the moon against
  • those stained-glass windows. We stood still
  • and listened hard as flurries started.
  • We watched our breath rise and mingle,
  • the buzzing of the streetlamps
  • as loud as her voice. I wanted to sing back to her,
  • but she would never hear, so I started
  • to hum. You hugged me then on the sidewalk,
  • old friend, in, your peacoat; you kissed my frozen ears,
  • my forehead. Your breath smelled like wet wool — I remember
  • that well, after all these years — and you told me
  • you loved me. I said the same to you,
  • though I couldn’t have meant it. Did you? We were just boys.

Michael Hettich’s most recent books are Like Happiness (Anhinga, 2010) and The Animals beyond Us (New Rivers, 2011). His most recent chapbook is The Measured Breathing (Swan Scythe Press, 2011). “Elegy,” which originally appeared in The Sun, is part of a new manuscript entitled The Purposeful Hum. He lives with his wife Colleen in Miami and teaches at Miami Dade College.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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