in the backyard, feet touch earth under knees
that have perfect pitch.
they are carrying the body above them,
harmonizing all the while
with grass and corked sandal soles,
sharing rounds with nocturnal chirpers.
the knees keep on humming –
plodding along like a sniffing dog,
past the edge of the white porch-light –
where they wait, attentively, for the singular tone,
like the singular scent, that every evening must have.
they gather it. they bring it back in.
they keep it through many seasons
until it is winter in a porchless city;
they keep it until it aches in them.
the technician gives important instructions,
the brain translates twice –
from language to language;
from words to nerves.
just: be still.
when the mri begins, ears muffed, the knees
reach around the mechanic cacophony
fumbling through scales
for a way into the sound.
but the tones are inscrutable.
just float, the brain silently offers –
so the knees try this – but the water so distracts them
from their double translation orders
that they settle, then, hollow like boxes –
but, conscious as they are,
continue slipping in and out
through the bramble of what vibrates from around
into the thicket of what vibrates still from within.