Take it down

Even your mother's Christmas
utterances are reduced
to telephone pads. We now have three
a disgrace in acid colours - sun-faded -
and one thousand (approx.) pages.

A myriad of diminutive messages
encrypt our information laden days, jostle
for attention beneath used matches, crumpled cables,
petri-dish mugs, papers never read
- tough the highlighter yellow
does a good job of pretending.

'Sudan appeal', one says, '0870 ...[illegible]',
and faint in the radio background
observers deny genocide. 'Phone Grandma
on pain of death' winces in retrospect. Unworthy
offspring we are. Many bear names
unremembered, and scream reproach
from all nine digits of their attendant numbers.

Vital squares always fail to show. Our jungle
of ink and paper reclaims
cleared territory with lightning speed,
regurgitates only pencils
worn to the hilt, doodles
of doubtful geometry
and a faint scent of mold.

Suzanne Aigrain, 2004