Poetry May 2012

The Foley Artist’s Apprentice

More

I wanted to be one of his props, a thing
that made the sound of other things—an umbrella
      pushed open and closed: birds’ wings.
      A coconut shell, one half
in each of his hands—galloping,
      galloping. I set up his microphone stands
and he made the crackle of fire
      with a ball of cellophane,
      poured salt on a tinfoil sheet for rain.
The sound of skin on skin—two pieces of paper he slid
      against each other. I wanted to be the words
on the paper. I wanted to be what I heard
in the mixing studio as I layered and looped
      his tracks. I play them back:
my body the strip of steel he shook for thunder,
      the feather he held to the spinning bike wheel
      for a hummingbird’s hum, the fine-tooth comb
on which he plucked the crickets’ song. The real
sound isn’t always the best,
      he said, when I asked why not go outside
and record the wind—and when I held
      the microphone to my chest, what it amplified
      was less
like a heartbeat than the one he made
      when he wrapped
the microphone in felt and gently tapped
      it against a bass drum, again and again.

Caitlin Doyle has been a writer in residence at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., and a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She lives in East Hampton, New York.
Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Did I Study Physics?

In this hand-drawn animation, a college graduate explains why she chose her major—and what it taught her about herself.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Video

How Is Social Media Changing Journalism?

How new platforms are transforming radio, TV, print, and digital

Video

The Place Where Silent Movies Sing

How an antique, wind-powered pipe organ brings films to life

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In