UEB, by Nancy Scott

We gave it no thought
til, suddenly, it was to be
adopted in a year.
Some acronym people decided.
Notices appeared in magazines.
In January 2016,
how we read and write would change.
 
There are reasons, of course —
easier for new users to learn
and simpler for computers to translate.
We can have a free book of new rules.
We will need it.
We read it and decide
we will not be able
to write this new code.
 
“Reduce” begins with “red”
and “communication” starts and ends differently.
“Comfortable” feels odd.
“To” and “by” are two letters connected to nothing.
Parentheses have “gh” and “ar” in them.
The decimal point better conforms to print.
 
It can be read, except
that we keep looking back at words
that have never been written this way.
“Table” can't have a number sign
and “fever” is now “ever” with an “f” in front of it.
We might say “really”
but writing it will take five cells.
 
We can see underlining and bolding
and what an em-dash actually is,
not to mention other dashes we never understood.
Capitals and plurals with apostrophes
will be punctuated more clearly.
E-mail addresses and websites
will be easier to read.
 
We laugh at the future.
We will love old books.
And twenty-five years from now,
the nine-year-olds will pick up a volume
transcribed in 2015 and complain,
“Oh no.
Old people braille.”
— Nancy Scott