By hand

Black lines appear magically from the tiny nub
Looping and sweeping across a page of lined, white paper
Gentle scratching sounds, rising and falling
Metallic smell as the pen warms under your fingers
Small blotches at the bottom of an “i” or “t”
Where the pen has paused and lifted to add a dot or crossbar

Before you make your first mistake, the page is uniform
A lesson in penmanship for your third grade teacher
Then you must cross out a word or scribble up a phrase
Soon the page devolves into a war in a thunderstorm
Blockades and arrows and jagged lighting strikes
Whole passages marked over with an X
Leaving a text to be deciphered like Egyptian hieroglyphs
Or a cave painting of gazelles and leopards and ears of corn

Editing can be done with keyboard and mouse
Writing is a communion with the pulped wood
A game of beat-your-thoughts to the end of the sentence
Hand cramping, fingers burning, lovely loops collapsing
Into shorthand and the crowded lettering of a madwoman
Blank pages have become gloriously messy
Littered with fragments of clauses and flattened adverbs

Tomorrow, perhaps, I will sweep them into orderly sentences
Clean up their grammar and tidy their punctuation
For now, I will revel in the blackness of the ink
And the visual rhythm of their shapes
As I lay down my pen with a satisfying click

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