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Ghost Sounds (America; 2019)

Authors: 
Rob Jackson
Year: 
2019
Journal: 
America
Journal Volume/Pages: 
22 July, 2019

Ghost Sounds

Sounds die,
the whoosh of a Steller’s sea cow’s breath
erased a few decades after discovery, the echo-
locational click of baiji river dolphins,
each coo and cluck of passenger pigeons
in flocks so thick they snapped branches.

Sounds haunt audio wax museums.
The kent and rap-tap double knocks of ivory
bill woodpeckers survive in recordings
from one forest tract in Louisiana.
Would a piano be whole if it lost a key,
an orchestra complete if eight measures of tympani
were all that endured,
sampled repeatedly in hopes a cryptic bird rejoins?

Come on.  Come on.  Come on, now.  Come on.

Scanning bare trees at dawn
I tap the rhythm of waves lapping the shore,
touch my brother’s gravestone at Ouvry,
silent, incomplete, because I never knew him,
never heard the sound of his voice.