We were blood n’ bone archives,
supervised by florescence,
engraving names, dates, chronicles
& shrines into silver & gold.
No robotics, then, just hefty trays
filled with timeworn fonts,
letters locked in temporary confinement,
then whipped by the pantograph —
ruthless, each diamond-tipped quill.
Vices were clamped,
knobs repositioned, readjusted, again
& again, but ratios are preordained.
War epics outrank dog tags, will not fit,
& heart-lockets are deceptive, hold so little.
Always our obsession with pressure,
adequate depth, precision,
burdened with the knowledge even steel
dents, eventually folds.
Nothing is impenetrable or eternal,
but the hopeful kept signing-over their own:
watches & wedding cups, rings & rattles,
trophies & beloved milestones.
They left deep marks
upon us, too, every fleeting pang.
Gravers work miracles, keep alive
what was already lost;
vowing to immortalize
your fading vignettes
upon the slip of long-hardened metal.
By Cyndi MacMillan, 2016