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
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.
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