Summer Sundays when I was ten,
I’d sneak downstairs to the new stereo.
The sky was bright, the sun still hidden
behind the neighbor’s house.
I folded my knees against the brief morning chill
and kept the volume at a whisper,
used the dial like a scalpel:
a squinch to the right, another,
straining to parse the loopy static.
With time I heard the pops and whines
as a jabbering crowd, and I’d choose
a voice, coax it into the room,
listening, listening, tuning again,
newly, fanatically patient.
First triumph, tinny music (Marty Robbins). But then:
when I found the big news station from Chicago - Chicago! -
I gasped and kept my hand on the dial.
Once I heard country music from Oklahoma
and once a very faint preacher in Nebraska.
This only lasted for a magic hour or so
before the local air began to stir,
Minneapolis muscling in
with hog futures and weather.
I kept my secret,
this sacred this time before the light,
and as the everyday world returned
I knew the way beyond it
was at the edge of my hearing.