ONLINE MAGAZINE MONTHLY u ISSUE #9 u  AUGUST 2003 u sentinelpoetry.org.uk


One Two Three

The printed card states simply: ABACUS.
Beside it is a note that tells
its history, a making sense of number;
talks of counting, talks of dust.

How many hands have fingered beads
along these wires by ten and ten?
How many children learned their decimals
hearing clicks of ball on frame?
What calculations hovered under hands,
what honest bargaining, or cheating trade?

A million, million fingertips
once wrote in dust, now dust themselves,
to mark a reckoning; and dust on tables
became a clean page day by day
for ciphers and for diagrams.

From grains of sand, the specks of centuries,
from tiny beads too small to count,
a new frame holds its heart of silicon.

Now fingers tap in tens on keys,
count electronic beeps that add, subtract,
divide and multiply: and fingers feel
a memory of dust within their grooves,
a heritage of sliding beads on wire.


and there you stand
warm against the twilight
breathing promise

The words were scrawled across
a white and folded paper bag, torn
at the corner. All at once
they carried me a year, a hundred miles to where
a poem was conceived and lost
before it could compound itself to form.
The heat drew blood out of its sultriness.
we walked through paths where no reserve
touched our twining fingers. There was
birdsong, drone of insects, murmur of flowers,
then evening softened scented air for us.
we came home, the day fulfilled in lingering
and leaving only paper words were scribbled on:

and there you stand
warm against the twilight
breathing promise

Next Page


Alison Chisholm (Guest)
Six Poems

Richard L. Provencher
Four Poems

JB Mulligan
Five Poems


Nnorom Azuonye
My e-Conversation with
Alison Chisholm


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