The Edge of the World by Michael Hettich
Let’s imagine a woman could walk to the edge
of the world as we know it, sit down there to rest
and look out over what we think of as nothing
while she waits for her husband to arrive with the supplies.
Or perhaps she doesn’t wait and just keeps walking,
wondering whether she might simply disappear.
She’s the kind of woman gives a dollar to the homeless guy
as though it’s just a loan; she’s the kind of person
who gathers up stray cats and takes them to the pound
so the wild birds will be safe in her garden.
Now she walks into nothing at the edge of the world,
and it’s not what you’d expect from the stories of conquistadores
hacking out the jungle for its gold. No, she finds herself
sitting in a cafe drinking cappuccino
and talking to someone who looks like he could be
a door into a room full of light, in a house
so perfect she’d dissolve there, or explode like tiny bubbles
in a glass of champagne, as her husband stands confused
back at the edge there, calling her name
until he gives up, turns around and goes home
to find someone like her, someone he doesn’t know
though everything about her is familiar, as though
he’ll never wake again. And so he lives by dreaming.
Michael Hettich’s recent book of poems, Systems of Vanishing, was published in 2014. Other books include The Animals Beyond Us (2011) and Like Happiness (2010). A new book, The Frozen Harbor, is forthcoming. His work has appeared widely in journals.