Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Inscribed ‘Belonged to Louise Catherine Coe before her marriage to John Charles Smith, March 1852.’

I expected the lettering to carry
The date of the gift, a kind of christening:
This is more like the plate on a coffin.

Louisa Catherine Smith could not be light.
Far more than a maiden name
Was cancelled by him on the first night.

I believe he cannot have known your touch
Like this instrument—for clearly
John Charles did not hold with fingering—

Which is obviously a lady’s:
The sound-box trim as a girl in stays,
The neck right for the smallest span.

Did you even keep track of it as a wife?
Do you know the man who has it now
Is giving it the time of its life?

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