I’ve been learning about dub-engineers
and the tricks they play: marrying up
their own footsteps to the character’s gait;
slamming the studio door at just the right moment;
rustling leaves in synchronicity with the screen. They replace
those little things lost beneath dialogue or
tense music or laughter. Some things don’t sound
like themselves, and a substitute is drafted in.
For example: the guillotine’s ripe squandering
is denoted on soundtracks by lopping
an axe through a cabbage.
This morning, in weird February sun, I watch
the black teardrop of a waterboatman sculling
under a pond’s thin surface. A donkey down-valley
is braying, and suddenly these two things slot into place:
the pull of the beetle’s oars; the rusty-hinge scrape
of the bray. As though the waterboatman was making
that sound of its own accord.
And lately I’ve been saying the sort
of things I say: so that no one
would guess – unless they knew
all the tricks – that all that noise
wasn’t really me.