It is written
that writing arose
of necessity
to save and send information outside
of memory and over
time and space.

Scholars surmised
writing's source in the arts-
pictograms
recreated into increasingly abstract symbols,
then names
and inevitably
words.
Archaeologists excavated
writing's roots from the earth-
Dense pieces of clay
that Sumerian accountants used
as tokens
to keep track of livestock and stores of grain.
Koldos the shepherd holds a lease from the village: 48 hectares of wheat.
One pair of wheels bound with bronze, unfit for service.
Four slaves of Koradollos in charge of seed corn-
Aigeus the Cretan brings them.
On none of these tablets
is written
any literary work.
No history, no artistry,
nor any diplomatic instructions,
personal letters, religious texts, historical writings,
nor anything,
in fact,
save these precisely detailed bureaucratic records of petty commercial transactions.
We can imagine
a future civilization
translating through time
the magnetic computer language
of a long-buried microchip,
and discovering
to their great disappointment,
only words.
 
Linda Plaisted
Copyright 2001-all rights reserved
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