After listening to R. A. Fish
I learned to play the dumbek at 20, but not like this: sufi ecstasy, dervish dance, seizure inspired by awe. I had three drums: clay, ceramic, and one so tall I could set my chin on it when it rested on my knees, made of nickel and brass. This one had long tuning pegs that caught on my skirt when I carried it. Each of them had names. Sixteen years later, the only one I have left is the clay. Its name is heartbreak.
One Christmas I hauled the giant metal one on the Greyhound from PIttsburgh to Philly, holding it like a child in my lap. Several people asked, “do you play,” and I answered, “sort of,” which meant: not here, not for you, not at gigs, this is private. I had to go visit my fucked up family for a long two weeks and I needed something for me alone. To insert between their drunken loudness and my reclusive sadness, another ringing voice.