A Poem by Nate Fisher
I found the primal sound of the universe
on cassette tape at a yard sale for a quarter.
I started listening to it on my mother’s old hi-fi
when caught in the melancholy of ho-hum motions;
sank into the ceiling, lamps and pillows and books
suspended in orbit around me as the spools turned.
A few evenings after my great find,
the lawyer who lived above me came knocking,
cloud in his eye: the shape of a body had appeared
burnt deep into his rug in ashen indigo, the scent
of almond blossoms was coursing through his vents,
and had anything like this been happening to me?
Did I know what could cause such things?
I offered him coffee
before offering him to the sound.
Soon, brought by word of mouth,
they were coming from as far out
as the coal mines to listen,
sitting circles in front of the receiver,
laughing, crying: soft sons and daughters of daybreak
brought together, each heart a fist.
Polymaths sat up for hours in my kitchen,
their scattered commentaries placemats for take-out boxes,
geometers chalked proofs and sequences
onto my living room floor, figures of whorls
and dodecahedrons closest to the speaker set.
Yet, others studied me instead, begged
to hear more, and the pilgrims started
to bring gifts: red ribbon, cakes,
lumps of ivory, dryfruits.
They began to salute me, asking
to be taught birdsong, for me to lead them
through the threshold of each breath,
and I told them, You can do these things yourself,
but they had traced my lineage to a copse of jacaranda trees
in a sacred tropic grove of some sort,
claiming the divine word had been delivered to me
from on high, and none wavered when I said
I had only happened on it,
that it was here
long before me.
Whispered obediences and wishes
outside of my bedroom window
folded one sleepless night into another
and I finally fled, left the sound and
changed my name, went hermetic in a river town
to watch it grow, only sending a truck for my belongings
when the flock had flown, claiming ascension.
I unpacked the boxes, the lilac coronet
they fixed to my brow, the lavender shawl
they wrapped me in: all priced for change
and placed on the bargain tables.
My estate renounced, gutted for sale
so I could retreat into the mountains stoic
and watch the sun dry my hands to dust.
The day of my own yard sale, when
the battered cassette was laid down
by the cashbox, I didn’t look
at the face that handed the quarter to me.
I refused to raise my head until the footsteps
on the wet grass had passed on.