Alexandra Van de Kamp

The Sound Engineer with his Castanets and Feathered Pillows

                                                           “My angels dance
                                            On the tips of matches.
                                            They have no wings.”
                                                               --Karen Volkman

The wisteria is dusty today, sagging 
with the tattered ends of summer. My vocabulary

hiccups lately: I say Bermuda
when I want to say Cuba. I say anchovy,

and my husband knows to translate:
black, Mediterranean olives. The birds settle

like exotic fruit in the trees (fruit
with gray wings and shiny

green bones, fruit that doesn’t know
I am calling it fruit) and shadows flex 

their spreading grimaces up 
and down my arms and shoulders. 

Each day advertises itself like a matinee, 
although the bright wattage 

of the title is often lost on me, 
and the plot’s key twist. Me, 

the audience member who stumbles
into the theater, mid-action, 

who finds out three days
after the fact, of the shooting,

of the boy turning to go,
but not fast enough,
of the cop and his jittery
gray gun (a gun that has no idea

we’re calling it gun). Where’s 
the sound engineer 

with his castanets, feathered pillows,
and soft mops to usher us 

out of all of this? The trotting horses 
and tiger’s sensual purr close as rain

against my ear, the muffled
crying of October clouds? Even the ricochet

of a dry-mouthed, western shootout
would do. Hand me a plot I can trust, 

give me five seconds of thunder, 
blue and murderous, receding beyond

the pink umbrellas of a Long Island
August sunset, and I’ll begin  

to envision a supposed heaven, replete 
with the flimsy armature 

of the angels’ wings, and their violins—
rain-warped, wisteria-thin.

(Originally published in Prairie Wolf Press Review, Issue X, Fall 2016)