The title poem starts with some unknown kind of fruit sitting on the window sill. It sprouts a leaf and engenders contemplation on what it would be like as a tree in the yard. These poems are accessible and wide-ranging in subject matter. These three blurbs affirm how eclectic this poetry is: “Michael Hettich has written, with extraordinary empathy, a book about vanishment: of dreams and fathers, of love and animals and birds. Look carefully at the glinting lights he paints. Like everything beautiful, they will be gone before you know it.” —Lola Haskins. “In these stunning, fable-like poems, humans turn into animals in transformations that seem utterly natural, if not necessary. There’s a merging with wildness, even as wildness is disappearing. The poems themselves seem almost to disappear rather than end, as if they are heading into some trees, or entering the body of a horse. Hettich, though up against implied extinctions, keeps the reader entranced in a world we thought had vanished until these poems gifted us their quiet—'until something moved around inside us again…and it hurt like language must have done once, or maybe even love.’” —Anne Marie Macari. “Michael Hettich is one of our best and most necessary poets because his dreamlike stories remind us how little we truly see and how often we sleep through the day’s deep revelations. This collection—so tightly choreographed and flawlessly written—is like a long poem that shines brighter with each turn of the page. By book’s end, one is desirous to know more clearly those mysteries of the inner vision, and to bring a keener awareness to the fraught and fragile natural world that is ours to inhabit, nourish, and preserve. To Start an Orchard is a call to arms, demanding consciousness, responsibility, and love.” —Richard Jones. Although Michael Hettich has lived all over the country, he now lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina, with his family. He has published more than a dozen poetry books.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Press 53, 2019. 78 pages. Trade paperback.