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This poem is taken from PN Review 59, Volume 14 Number 3, January - February 1988.

Meeting the Comet (Poem) Fleur Adcock


She'll never be able to play the piano -
well, not properly. She'll never be able
to play the recorder, even, at school,
when she goes: it has so many little holes . . .

We'll have her taught the violin.
Lucky her left hand's the one with four
fingers, one for each string. A thumb
and a fleshy fork are enough to hold a bow.

Before the calculator - the electronic one -
there were beads to count on; there was the abacus
to tell a tally or compute a score;
or there were your fingers, if you had enough.

The base was decimal: there had to be
a total of ten digits, in two sets -
a bunch of five, another bunch of five.

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