Mudlark No. 40 (2010)

The Burning Door


What it means to be alive, he figures, is to have
a body. Otherwise everything is air, 
and air stays put or moves around, grows old and gathers up
odors and temperatures, but it isn’t alive
like a creature we might eat, or someone who can run
and dance. We were standing on a stone wall, singing
with the waves that sloshed and grumbled, in our burning skin,
and I was deciding whether to dive in
or if it was too rough. There were other people moving 
through each other’s sense of things, tasting each other’s 
language and talking, and we both felt confused
by our lost possibilities. There was nothing else to do then
but dive. So this morning when I woke to the cool breeze, 
the sound of early traffic and my wife’s steady breathing, 
I felt myself bobbing in that water, clinging to that wall:
In the distance, there are trains filled with emptiness and smoke
making the long journey back into the mountains,
and trains filled with seaweed, still funky, going north
to feed the wild animals whose names we can’t pronounce
without hurting our mouths. So we’re silent.

Michael Hettich | Mudlark No. 40 (2010)
Contents | The Burning Door IV