An Old Typewriter


One day I’ll fetch the Smith Corona from the cupboard,
set it on the desk and unclasp its blue plastic shell
to expose the nakedness of its baby-grand workings.

Remember the punch and peck words had in those days,
the strain of Q in the little finger, the type head
leaning out on its stalk from its semicircular roost,

the angelus ting that marked the end of a line
the slap of the silver lever that jerked time forward,
the shift key that tilted the world on its fulcrum,

the grey formalities hedged by tabs and margins
that turned language into geometry, the braille
of the other side of the page under the fingertips?

What was struck here could never be unstruck,
in spite of backspacing and xs, packets of Tipp–Ex paper
and the vial of Snopake, its screw-cap gritted shut.

Not used to taking ourselves so seriously, we prodded
at the ampersand tangled in its nest, the curly brackets
aiming their bows in opposite directions.

Switch on the anglepoise lamp; outside the window
it’s carbon-paper dark. There’s ribbonsmudge on your fingers
and a new sheet of foolscap rolled into place on the platen.

Typewriter by Matthew Francis

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