The Joys of Mathematics
At fifty I will begin my count towards the infinite numbers.
At negative ninety nine I will start my walk towards
the infinitessimally small.
At one over twenty seven I will inspect the first bridgeworks.
At twenty two over seven I will write a message in a bottle, entrust it to
a sea turtle, slip under a wave and sleep.
At eighty seven sparrows will land on the windowsill, pecking a hole
that leads inside my arm.
At 127 I will begin to arrange the children’s pillows, carefully filling
each one with warm handfuls of snow.
At ten to the negative six our friends from the White House will arrive,
handing out glass beads and broken shells filled with recently
At the inverse square of sixteen the sky will curve over blue lakes, songbirds
settle at dusk, a small train rattle off towards a village that leans
against a single church spire.
At one over negative twenty two I will start to dream in Sanskrit, creating a
swarm of brown ants to bring back a baby’s rattle from the
edge of a mud slide.
At ten to negative two over three I will open my heart, letting go of all vanities,
right down to the wilted bones.
At the third transfinite number I will give up easy answers.
At e to the i pi the earth will bristle with skulls and weapons, dolphins will
proclaim the first inter-stellar arms bazaar in Antarctica, the
new born will drink only lead, the elderly will wander the moon
in the quest for warmth.
At one I will open my eyes.
At zero I will put the key back under the mat.
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(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
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