• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 05

The collector of sounds

fondles the exhibit, notes the two tongues snagged
under, clipped. Her mouth had been smaller, true,

a pinch-clip of palate, visible in vowels and glottal
stops. Those other lips, full back then, often a seal-fat

fricative of quiet reproach. Both are peeled now to nothing
more than bony gum, smooth as shellac, blood and pearl.

He's catalogued that day somewhere in shadowy drawers,
heard such artistry before, and reaches gently out to touch.

Hazel-nuts, each toothed twiggy hook, twins of those
green-snapped in Felbrigg Wood to wicker-fix the gate

that Jane and George passed through, are held clenched tight. How little branches split these half remembered grins

with clean-cut wood. He pictures cherry trees, how walking once in succulent summer sun, they bit and bit each little

globe of stony flesh, disclosing click-clack dentistry. Their
spoken words like chickering magpies squabbling overhead,

a phonologist's sweetest dream. Jane and George long dead,
resounding still, a tympani of love. They're his now, tissued,

softly boxed, gift-wrapped, he takes them quietly home. Each intimate dentured smile a souvenir, a sibillant talking point.