Charmaine: A Musical Moment

Christopher Salvesen

A cold ground-floor bedroom: on the linoleum
A gramophone – a box set like a trap.
Home from school I open it, wind it up,
Lift the half-human shapely heavy arm;
The steel needle rides the black vibrant disc,
Bearing down, just not tearing, on the gloss.
From the metallic hissing contact – music:
Music uncontrollable, disproportionate,
Too loud – too sweet as well, the song swells out
On augmented reverberating strings,
Cloying, disturbing, as it drags the air
Almost like a shriek in that freezing space,
Invades me, and engulfs me, unprepared
For any sound so full or such raw feeling.
My whole body fills, an echoing chamber:
I am that ugly room so often empty.
I would need unknown colours to describe it:
The lino’s geometry, unmeaning, muddy,
Wan puce or damson skirting-boards and shutters,
The fawn walls unadorned, the settled chill
In which my father in his quilted coffin
Will, one day soon after, lie.