Remember, dear, when this was the one way
to make a disk sing? Full-size, not compact—
and both the disk and player would obey
only if you possessed your share of tact:
You’d lift the tone arm, puff a bit of air
across its fragile needle to remove
new dust, or use a brush of sable hair
to coax it out. After each vinyl groove
was polished with the softest chamois cloth,
you’d spin a record on its table, place
the needle over it, light as a moth—
you must remember! For the way you trace
the path of every melody I store
shows gentleness I’ve never known before.
Claudia Gary writes: “In case anyone still thinks art and science belong in different categories, it may help to remember that long before there were computer nerds, there were music nerds (audiophiles). Back then, enjoying high fidelity sound at home required paying close attention to detail and taking good care of fussy, sensitive machines. They may not have been as cavalier as today’s machines that demand upgrades at their own convenience; but yesterday’s machines did need a lot of TLC in exchange for beautiful music. And so does love.”
Claudia Gary lives near Washington, D.C., in Northern Virginia, and teaches workshops on Villanelle, Sonnet, Natural Meter, Poetry vs. Trauma, Poetry for Musicians, etc., at The Writer’s Center (writer.org) and elsewhere, currently via Zoom teleconference. Author of Humor Me (David Robert Books, 2006, in which Phonograph was published), and of chapbooks including Genetic Revisionism (2019) and Bikini Buyer’s Remorse (2015), she is also a health science writer, visual artist, and composer of tonal chamber music and art songs. See pw.org/content/claudia_gary; follow her on Twitter at @claudiagary.