Metal Whistle

The whistle surface is the texture of a paraffin block. The aluminum is a single cast piece that lacks welds or bolts. I don’t know how I know that it is aluminum. It has the heft of plastic. I know that if I took a piece of steel I could cut the whistle. I imagine the surface peeling into two halves. I remember mangling a can of TAB as a child. I could saw a TAB can into pieces with a stray ignition key. Tics and abrasions cover the surface of the whistle. It’s been rolling around in the box filled with old keys, buttons, quarters, and pennies. My grandfather carried change in his pockets and was ready to use them to buy things. In the seventies, he could buy actual food with change. I empty my pockets of change when I acquire coins. I am given coins very rarely now. I pay for just about everything — a soda at the convenience store, a scooter, a car, with numbers and secret keys. I might walk around for weeks without folding money. When I pay with a bill, the cashier dampens his finger in a sponge moistened with antibacterial fluid, and I receive a handful of change that I don’t want to put in my pocket where it might scratch the surface of my phone. The change ends up in a box on my desk; eventually, I convert it to a slip of paper at a machine at the grocery store. This is a step to the dissolution of the change into digital numbers, into air. But, the aluminum whistle carries the marks and scars of the zinc and nickel used to make quarters and pennies. I am still intimate enough with manufactured goods to not only know somehow the whistle is made out of aluminum. I am intimate with aluminum. I know how to mangle and reshape aluminum. I place the whistle next to my ipod. The ipod is powered off. It is a smooth slip of glass. The metal whistle has a single function. I know the taste of the pucker where I place the metal shaft and blow. At first, it doesn’t make a sound and then I adjust the air and the air makes a tone. The entire shape of the whistle is designed to deliver this single toot. The ipod can also produce a whistle. The ipod is also a window into the virtual. There is a button that opens the window. The device wants a swipe of my fingers across the face to confirm my entry, and then I have a field of options. I have so many options I have to rummage around for the virtual whistle. With my metal whistle I can communicate to someone with in earshot. I can make a piercing sound. I could maybe whistle out a Morris code signal or maybe there is some ancient communication scheme of whistle sounds. And if the person within ear shot has a whistle they cloud communicate to me as well. They could whistle a response. I open Facebook on my ipod. I can read status updates fed to FaceBook from people using phones, tablets, computers, whatever. In the realm of the material, a whistle is more substantial than an ipod in terms of material function. The whistle warms my breath into a sound. The ipod touch requires power. While it allows me access to the unseen, the digital tone of the whistle is only a simulation of the actual, material sound of a whistle. But it is handy. I don’t have to carry an actual whistle to whistle. I wonder if I will lose the memory of a pocket full of change, or mangling an old TAB can with a stray ignition key?

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