Thursday, April 7, 2011

Poems: For Tax Time

I’m convinced that no matter what kind of day you’ve had, there is a poem that goes along with it. Some younger folks probably feel the same way about song lyrics (but since I rarely understand or even recognize those) I’ll stick with something more comfortable. Poetry. In honor of National Poetry Month, I’ll be sharing some favorites.
April 15th is just around the corner and there has been much crunching of numbers here at the MathMansion. Mr. M. has done more than his fair share, for which I’m grateful. Me and numbers….well…. I’d rather read a poem about them than solve an equation with them any day!


I like the generosity of numbers.
The way, for example,
they are willing to count
anything or anyone:
two pickles, one door to the room,
eight dancers dressed as swans.
I like the domesticity of addition--
add two cups of milk and stir--
the sense of plenty: six plums
on the ground, three more
falling from the tree.
And multiplication's school
of fish times fish,
whose silver bodies breed
beneath the shadow
of a boat.
Even subtraction is never loss,
just addition somewhere else:
five sparrows take away two,
the two in someone else's
garden now.
There's an amplitude to long division,
as it opens Chinese take-out
box by paper box,
inside every folded cookie
a new fortune.
And I never fail to be surprised
by the gift of an odd remainder,
footloose at the end:
forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,
with three remaining.
Three boys beyond their mothers' call,
two Italians off to the sea,
one sock that isn't anywhere you look.
                        -Mary Cornish