The Book-keeper

I am the keeper of the books,
the strict nursemaid of numbers,
director of digits,
careful depositor of decimals.
I shepherd the naughty numbers,
(leaping nimbly like young sheep,
my eraser nipping slyly at their heels)
nudging them into their ink-ruled pens
down the paddock of the page,
closing the brackets firmly behind them.
I count my flock carefully,
diligent lest the least digit
should escape unnoticed,
for the least is as important as the greatest
in the spreadsheet of life,
and not even one decimal point
shall go unmarked.

I am the seamstress of the spreadsheet,
stitching together with fine-nibbed pen
the patchwork of profit and loss.
I select my numbers by shape and size
dovetailing them smoothly
into the pattern of the sheet,
(the red to the left
black to the right).

There’s a harmony in numbers,
in the way they chime sweetly
with a clear bell-like note
when they all agree,
when they flow
in the pre-ordained pattern,
moving with graceful ritual steps
from left to right,
together and apart,
in a dignified pavanne.

The Grandmothers was first published in the anthology Ferlinghetti’s Pyjamas – a collection of work from The Society of Women Writers (Tas), published by. KISSMEDIA 1993 ISBN 0-646-1673-6-