Complaints from Medieval Scribes

a found poem

 Imagine sitting for hours at a slant desk,
copying on rough parchment with a sharpened
quill, day after lonely day. Of course you’d be
tempted to write in the margins: “That’s a hard page
and a weary work to read it.” “New parchment,
bad ink; I say nothing more.” “The ink is thin.”
“I am very cold.” “Saint Patrick of Armagh,
deliver me from writing.” “Thank God
it will soon be dark.” “Oh, my hand.” “Now
that I’ve written the whole thing: for Christ’s
sake give me a drink.”

Barbara Crooker lives in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania. This poem is from a book-length project of meditations on The Book of Kells.

Image: Merlin dictating his prophecies to his scribe, Blaise; French 13th century miniature from Robert de Boron’s Merlin en prose (ca 1200); public domain from Wikimedia Commons.