Issue > Poetry
Michael J. Ortiz

Michael J. Ortiz

Michael J. Ortiz and his wife have four children, all avid readers. He teaches English at The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland and has written two books – Swan Town: The Secret Journal of Susanna Shakespeare (HarperCollins, 2006) and Like The First Morning: The Morning Offering as Daily Renewal (Ave Maria Press, 2015). He used to do a lot of deer hunting, but now mostly teaches, writes, and cooks.

Field Watching


The shadows of this acreage
are on the move, horizon-haunted
pilgrims, intaglios of air, field-foragers
darkening dry grasses, wheat, soy stretching
farther than the eye can cast,
no noise now but the sounds
of pure distance: a branch knocking
in the tall woods beyond,
wing-flutter, swoosh of starling,
wind-tossed anchorages of crow,
and above, of course, sky sails,
massively textured clouds,
the willful celibate hands of air
that move across the sun,
writing their refreshing frowns beneath.

Here I sit. Here the world goes on.

A Moment

Where we once saw meadows,
sun-soaked fields, breezes

moving like a hand
over the sweeping openness,

we now see darkness,
a jagged smile of clouds that mocks

the light that was.

I am thinking of a Higgins boat
rocking sideways

off the Norman coast,

men waist-deep in waves,
legs sinking into the sandy bottom

(each stride into the rain-pitted surface
slips back, back, back)

faces toward what they dread
but they are walking at it, anyway,
rifles carried aslant, like batons

streaming cold tears, signaling
something too large for feeling:

the greens of the sea, the browns of their hair, eyes,
uniforms, haversacks, belts,
monochromatic, now, caught in the moment
they realized
the forever of not turning back.

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