Ethel Jane Cain
The search for the girl with the golden voice
ended with Ethel Jane Cain, a telephonist
from Croydon, who beat all others
to give time a tongue and face.
Movietone finds her an English rose,
a Marcel waved emblem of the politeness of kings,
never be late again the campaign ran. To be fast
or slow a thing of the past.
The switchboard jammed the first day
the glass disks turned; the lonely rang in
for company, insmoniacs for a sort of lullaby,
others found in her crisp correctness a certain charge.
The tick of Ethel’s heart stopped at eighty-seven,
but archived, her debutante vowels survive,
winding back the clock of herself
to our parents’ long coffined days and nights.
Stephen Bone has a ‘Stickleback’ pamphlet due from Hedgehog Press in 2021.