Preview of Unsaid Six: Divisions of the Field, by Jason Schwartz


The common wasp measures roughly two hundred hertz. This is well below the frequency of, say, a human scream. Anderson compares the sound of a dying beetle with the sound of a dying fly. (The names of the families escape me at the moment.) The common bee, absent its wings, is somewhat higher in pitch. (Carpenter bees would swarm the porch in August.) The true katydid says “Katy did” — or, according to Scudder, “she did.” The false katydid produces a different phrase altogether, something far more fretful. Wheeler concludes with the house ant and the rasp of a pantry door. Douglas prefers a hacksaw drawn across a tin can. (We found termites in the bedclothes one year.) A sixteenth note, poorly formed, may be said to resemble a pipe organ or a hornet.  The children set their specimens on black pins.

Pritchard—or perhaps Hood—devises a sparrow trap with nine chambers.  Miller lists various calls for geese and quail. But the illustrations, in Tilton’s manual, show arrangements of jays. Overleaf, grouse hang in an old town. (The door recalls ours, it seems to me.)  The lonesome call—a pattern of four noises, according to Walker—can occur in a simple pit. A piano blind can imply a sad family story. (A shot bird makes a brown sound—or so I thought as a boy.) The hunter’s command is “blood”—and now the spaniel endeavors to terrify the guests—or “dead bird.” Evening grosbeaks appear near the edge of the oaks, beyond the folly, in a row. Yellowhammers fall on the walk. The chains, on some occasions, approximate the timbre of a man’s voice. A certain hex sign describes a child buried alive.

Ordinary breathing, for a boy, measures roughly ten decibels. Bedside crying, in winter, in a brick house, animals on the walls—roughly eighty.  The rag doll was without hands, I now recall.) A woman says “dear,” or perhaps “door,” and then two names—or perhaps only one.  The action of a hinge, according to Dalton, falls between a shriek and a scream. Burns prefers a series of wails, all in the upper register.  (The deadbolt was painted gray.) A father’s sobbing, in a hallway and a stairwell, and then in a corner room, second story, early in the evening—this may be mistaken for toppling objects or for the scraping of a fire grate. (My window faced the road.) Martin lists the rattlebox and the copper pot, but neglects the cat trapped in the attic. The children arrange knives in three piles.

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