'Sundial,' 783-1800

February 04, 1994|By Clarinda Harriss Raymond

I recalled the Gullah woman

my father used to tell me about

who could sing two notes at once

one in her throat one in her mouth

so I dialled the "Sample" number

in italics under a Baltimore Sun article

on Huun-Huur-Tu the Throat-Singers

from Tuva on the edge of Mongolia

who are appearing at the Smithsonian

and yes somebody from a long way away

sang double right over the phone

and then they did a number

called "evengileer" "whose pulsating

rhythm is said to evoke

the sound of a cantering horse"

and it was true the hooves

barely touched down the rocking

would make you seasick

if it weren't so fast and close

to earth with the rider's own

thighs feeling it to the bone

my father would have felt it

the same way he always heard

trotting carriage horses in

most of Vivaldi and all of Bach

and then they sang in praise

of a Tuvan city which was clearly

rainy and full of alley-pools

that swam with rainbows like Paris

back in the '30s when my father

drank "decent cheap wine" there

all during Prohibition and

I wished my father could dial

this number until I realized

had dialled my father

something I'd been trying to do

ever since he died in 1989

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