Aaron Baker

Rife Machine

Morning’s work done, attention curdles—–is this pleasure?——into something remote,

a phantom erotic of humidity and exercised, now resting, limbs.

How the body, the landscape, finds one vibration and for awhile, hums.


Is it the mind that goes heavy and then the arms, or the arms first and then the mind?

Virginia’s drenched swelter of August settles behind the eyes, an anesthesia

of cicadas, the mist-lines of hilltops growing more distant. Hums—


hums as Royal Rife heard it, discredited quack who believed if you found

the right radio frequency, tumors and viruses would literally be shaken and die.

In his last months, my father held the glass globe, lightning arcing within it,


and placed it to his head, his spine, his chest, in the dark room, Bible on his lap

as he fiddled the knobs of the box, polished wood like a radio of the 1940s,

where he looked for the frequency, the broadcast between worlds


that would return him to his life. In between sky and hilltop, cicadas again,

then silence, all kinds of sleep, the disordered murmurings of light. Listen

for that nervous and voluble confluence, that harmony that almost coheres


beneath hearing. Wake, sleep, and wake again. The sun climbs the hill.

Are there words for this music? Listen for what you need. Try harder

to hear that motion within the folds of light. You will be destroyed.



“Rife Machine” first appeared in Northwest Review, 49.1.