Friday, March 11, 2011

Upon Reading a Math Book Late at Night

Halfway into dawn
when the line between light and dark
hovers before plunging into day
I contemplate happenstance.
Unlike numbers
I live in the vicinity
of coincidence.

Page after page patterns,
letters wordless in their equations
emerge as symbols.

On page thirty-four the equation
cy + dx = cd characterizes
the ‘lineness’ of a line,
capturing the essence
like a line of poetry
unskeins and translates love.

Absorbed by questions
of position and space
a Greek mathematician
grappled with
a pyramid’s volume.

He approximated a stack
of tapered square plates,
seeking volume as if he could hold
formlessness with linear markings.

I kick the imagined plates,
skewing a pyramid off-center
and compose an epilogue
to Egyptian laborers dragging stone.

Linda Watskin ©2011


  1. I am amazed by the ease with which you made math and science sound so appealing to me. I've not read enough of your work. I will now!
    Here's my Big Tent contribution:

  2. Wow. This is gorgeous and so descriptive.

  3. Linda, nice images created from mathematics.


  4. Your title sounds like an invitation to a nightmare to me. But you have followed the idea through in such an interesting way that I was gripped to the end. Thank you.

  5. Nice job..."unskeins and translates love"...great use of words. Vb

  6. I live in the vicinity
    of coincidence.

    I really like this line.

  7. Linda, this is fantastic. I was most taken with this:
    I live in the vicinity
    of coincidence.

    And I loved the imaginings inspired by contemplation of mathematics.

  8. What Nan said. And that last stanza! A beauty.

  9. Wonderfully well imagined and poemed.

  10. You have embedded such a history in your poem of mathematics and poetry and love. I am particularly enamoured of "the 'lineness' of a line." And the rich metaphors that ancient math brings to the poet's mind "halfway into dawn."

  11. I love the first stanza... very nice!