The Italian way with the knife is done.
But what about this sleeveless, rickety LP
at the bottom of my father’s dusty stacks?
—Alessandro Moreschi, The Last Castrato,
The Complete Vatican Recordings.
What takes me at this tender age of twenty-eight,
what spirits me and drags me to the attic,
unearths the turntable, restarts the record,
what dials down the volume knob to 1?
Ave Maria. Just imagine: this voice,
the last of its kind, so the only of its kind—
limitless pitch, limitless in time, Hallelujah.
And meanwhile, outside, a century later,
my father finishes mowing the lawn.
Don’t let another god appear
in the theater.
It’s so disappointing.
When the gods are called, and they come
and prance around like the bodies of men,
they’re ruined for me.
Let them be wonderful,
not pigeons in sunlight,
nor the dumb sea confusing Ithacan sailors.
Stop pestering those strange creatures.
We may find someday
we need them.”