Digitus meant finger

to the Romans

and gave us our word digit

which means finger too,

but as years went by

became a word for number,

since fingers count things

(crudely but ably).

It takes most of the digits

of one hand

to write numbers on paper

or even letters for that matter –

individual and epistolary.

People used to write letters

and you could hear them do it,

scribbling and scratching,

dotting and crossing,

blotting and cursing.

O the sounds.

Rhythm hung on

the grain of the paper and

the heft of the pen.

Script was practiced

as if it were important.

But using digits that way

wasn’t digital.

Digital is dots

that make no noise

and have no smell.

Tiny points of

yes or no,

plus or minus,

zero or one,

yin or yang.

Everyone’s digitals

look the same,

though their grammar and style

are much different,

unless of course you run it

through the computer

and let the program

improve it.

Better yet,

select a form letter

and type your name

at the bottom.

If typing tires you,

assign your name

to a function key.

Anyone can write

with only one digit.

Other graphic arts

overwhelmed the senses too.

Finger painting

with slimy slippery colored cream

on shiny white paper

made flat art

with unsettling depth

and smelled so pungently

bright and tactile.

You could use one digit

or all ten.

Just clean up after.

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