Ghost Sounds

Sounds die,

the whoosh of a Steller’s sea cow’s breath

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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.

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