No more spilling inkpots or tying red-tape
in thoughtless square knots, just systems crashing,
e-mail gone astray, and filing cabinets
replaced by disorganized disks and drives.
It all recalls the same words we once spoke
when a scribe dropped a cuneiform tablet
or mislaid lines of jackal-headed script:
I’m sure they only meant to do their best.
Ever thus with a melancholy smile
one sifts the debris of overlong careers
and discovers fossils, primarily those
of evolutionary cul-de-sacs,
at best the prey of more successful lines.
Like stenographers who spent careers
transcribing early drafts, we spent our years
building the world, one error at a time.