The Foley Artist’s Apprentice
by Caitlin Doyle

I wanted to be one of his props, a thing
that made the sound of other things—an umbrella
             pushed open and closed: birds’ wings.
             A coconut shell, one half
in each of his hands—galloping,
             galloping. I set up his microphone stands
and he made the crackle of fire
             with a ball of cellophane,
             poured salt on a tinfoil sheet for rain.
The sound of skin on skin—two pieces of paper he slid
             against each other. I wanted to be the words
on the paper. I wanted to be what I heard
in the mixing studio as I layered and looped
             his tracks. I play them back:
my body the strip of steel he shook for thunder,
             the feather he held to the spinning bike wheel
             for a hummingbird’s hum, the fine-tooth comb
on which he plucked the crickets’ song. The real
sound isn’t always the best,
             he said, when I asked why not go outside
and record the wind—and when I held
             the microphone to my chest, what it amplified was less
like a heartbeat than the one he made
             when he wrapped
the microphone in felt and gently tapped
              it against a bass drum, again and again.