To Ottillie Metzger

To Ottille Metzger
(Her recording of July 1910)

Time turns, its cycle constant as the record of man's hate:
whose mark, imperfect as the sound that trumpet make'.

Here is a voice … the bitter bite on wax
mouths to a mournful tune
(as if it knew the end to catch in groove too soon).

So clack and click, grind to the quick
till spring winds down the wind
and sounds, once sweet, are now etched deep
with death's discordant din.

But turn the handle, tense the steel
and let the record once more wheel
speed to a constant pitch …

Compare this rich inflection (the voice tuned true)
to their cut of cold 'perfection', the wounding needle too,

which plays the brittle mystery of our shell
its point to prick … the sorrow … swell.

Keep well this disk lest time may tear
or memory, like compassion wear.