We Make Our Instruments
Sitar is the prickle of a recent close-to-the-base
of-the-skull haircut tickling uncalloused fingers. Smooth
grapes on spiked vines—the thrumming heart beats
angry blood, in time, when the pressure elevates.
Calcification of heart-wood is how the tune is created.
Seasoning so sweet, incense swirl sounds these
tiny steps that expand slowly like the step of an animated
fairy. She blesses the room with ever-growing pink loops.
Perhaps, we have heard this and confused her hoops
of sound—the small swelling—the augmentation
of pink into magenta into mahogany as the expansion
of our minds.
And sound does work in this way.
Reverberations change the bearer. The weight of sound
waves are manipulated by air, by ear, by the redwood
walls, by the differentiation of instrument. The string.
Slip and stick. Contact the conifer slick. Heart to palm
rounded vehicles in glass cases, waiting to be touched.
The weight of balance on the bow. The density floods
a linearity of grain, or orientation of rings in her trunk.
A bow’s construction. Heat curves. Time wears
finger-grooves into her ample body. 150 taut hairs.
The timing on goat skin, donkey teeth—the weather
across California’s forests and cities. A reliance on
exhumation of rosewood, pernambuco, blackwood.
The skill of the mouth, the precise shape of the teeth
larynx, fine ear-structures—the blessing offered by
the specific elder to the thick elder at the time
Once sound starts a journey, does it change the
The inevitable die-out which dampens this quality changes
the heart curves on each wave—pumps blood. Bursts the
ventricles. Drives a thick ginger residue spike through
the temple. Then, alleviates with chamomile resonance.
Titian once made the shadow under my eyes famous
toxic—an exported harvest that reclassified unique
sunlight blooms into beans that oxidize with age. Ages
crumble into the dust we made with our heaving bellies.
Our trees have become instruments—hot bows and gut.
As we boil with them, we suffocate.
She gets the precooked
carcass from the supermarket.
It shares her stature—neck
bobbed and folded. Her grin
is the thick slope of one leg.
footless creature; no face—no eyes
to face. Hacked off at the neck. No, face this
meal. She wears
the title—face. No running
from this meat. Grotesque
eloquence in her slashing
lips. Fingers slide. No
running from this, meat.
Nails heavy with the shining
luster of gristle. She gouges out
from tooth. This creature’s salt
fills her cells—changing her to
flesh both gaping and unreliable.
Kari A. Flickinger’s poetry and short stories have been published in or are forthcoming from Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Ghost City Review, Eunoia Review, Riddled with Arrows, Moonchild Magazine, Quiet Storm, and Panoply, among others. She is an alumna of UC Berkeley. When she is not writing, she can be found playing guitar and singing to her unreasonably large Highlander cat, as well as obsessively over-analyzing the details of neighboring trees.
featured image: Ellie Anderson-Hawkins