designated niche, my parents forbid us to touch it.
“This is not a toy.” Oh no, something far better.
With a click of a lever, and a faintly chemical air,
the record dropped to spin, the slender arm lifted
straight up, then shifted to the first gleaming track,
lowering the needle into its groove with a crisp whisper,
before easing into the intro. Bass, treble, balance,
the knobs named for mysterious elements, for what came
from those speakers was the essence of the Beatles
themselves, Paul’s tenderness, John’s flared question,
harmonies that seemed to layer my own breath
in my chest, shifting transparency and strength,
like a sheer curtain blown out over a view of sheer
cliffs, the vast ocean beyond. “Please,” we begged,
“please,” could we just, if we're very careful,
my sisters and I, “please.” “It’s not a toy.”
I lay on the hall rug where the speakers’ jet-streams
crossed. This may have been my earliest ecstasy,
entered so fully with sound, resonant with reckoning.
The wild dancing I was known for then
caused the needle to skip and scratch; so more often
I lay there, my undanced energy straining
against my stillness, my desire to be loved
as their voices promised, so ardent, I couldn’t wait
my turn. I climbed up onto the bookcase
to activate the delicate mechanism myself,
cranked the volume until I was so thoroughly awash
in music, it almost drowned out my scolding.
But it didn’t matter. I knew I would do anything
for this feeling. My Rock and Roll life had launched.