Thursday, February 18, 2021



You’ve been searching for the proof

But underestimated the number of steps,

The delicacy of the diaphanous threads

Holding it all together.

You can't stand aloof;

This was never going to be as simple

As Pythagoras made it seem.

Some people see it right away

Like Knight to King three,

A Rorschach blot smeared across 

The page which then becomes the thing

That they decide it must be.

For the rest of us, it must be calculated

Step by step by esoteric step.

We want answers.

We want to solve for x.

What is the equation

For the shading of the moon?

When I drop this rock

How long do I have

Until it cracks my foot?

What is the rate limiting step

In this fiery chemical reaction

That consumes my heart

And synthesizes your soul.

Easier to start with things we can count

And tally them all up.

Two and two is always four

And then you can add a million more

Get a few right, get on a roll.

Brute force computation,

It's the only way to keep score.

It starts out simple, arithmetic;

A pad, a pencil, crunch the numbers,

Carry the seven, remainder six.

But the deeper you delve it gets more complex.

You have to come up with new tricks.

Algebra where the variables are clingy and co-dependent.

Vectors veering within Cartesian planes.

Powers of ten, exponential change.

Or calculus which claims to conjure

A truth from approximations

Where close enough counts as finger tip touch.

The limit of this function

When two hearts approach

One always tacks toward love.

It keeps getting more complicated.

You have to multiply by your sadnesses

And factor out the common dooms.

Have at it.

See what it gets you.

Bleed your binomials and integrate

With respect to cherry blossom blooms.

Matrix theory in the context of matrimony.

Lose your son in a sine wave

Oscillating to the beat

Of your sine qua non sin.

But you can't stop, you're too far in.

Suddenly you’re asked the square root of a negative

And you’re stuck until you get creative

And conjure a world of imaginaries,

A realm beyond numbers,

Of orcs and dragons and faeries.

Measurables melting into abstractions.

Quantities as qualitative names.

Eons, manifolds, fathoms.

Teeming infinities.

But one infinity is the same as four

And infinity squared is not a whit more.

Take your childhood hero and divide

By infinite loss and the answer is always zero.

How many infinities does it take to erase you?

And this brings us to the home stretch

Where we've run out of ruses.

Everything spirals down to this.

The linked logical end,

Back to where you began;

Before numbers, concepts or names.

When mom and dad were just the same.

A time before should or ought

When there was no- thing to see,

By no one even there

And never a place to be.

You have to put everything

You have above the line---

All the love, all that's whole

And try to divide by naught.

Give it a shot.

Everyone has to

At some point.

It comes down to this,

For every wandering soul.

Gnaw on your pencil

Gaze at the stars.

There is no answer.

There is no should or ought

Because the answer is not a number

Or a name or a song or a thing.

We have only words, approximate descriptors:

Undefined, indeterminate, the empty set.

But this was always the last step

Of the serpentine equation

That winds through a life.

It demands an answer

That isn't exactly something

Nor can it be written off as a nothing.

Every day it stares us in the face.

This is where it was headed all along.

It was here from the very first. 

We know in our heart it can’t be solved

Just as we know the sun will rise

The rivers will flow and the grasses sway

Without being able to prove why. 

But we, with our pencils and pens

And constants and theorems

Rise to try, once again

           and then    once again.


1 comment:

Oldfoolrn said...

"Because the answer is not a number" I would have liked to try that one on my rigid, authoritarian statistics prof!