Myth, still magical


The winner of Sacramento-based Swan Scythe Press’s 2011 Chapbook Contest, The Measured Breathing, is made up of poems about transformations; sudden changes that are less Kafka-esque (no giant cockroaches) and more mythic (a fox, a bear). It’s as if poet Michael Hettich suspects we are all more than one thing, at least beneath the skin, and that awareness of that reality is only a breath away—a meditative breath, to be sure. And the transformation isn’t always perfect, as in “The Tail”: “But foxes use silence and cunning, and he loved / to sing.” And in “The Lesson,” the transformation—“we’ve heard stories of people turned to ashes / and snow—snow falling, snow covering the ground”—is as transient as a storm: “But when the snow melted, years later / everything returned to normal, though the rivers / were swollen at first with dogs and debris.”