Numbers II

— Dave Eisbach

I now know eighteen ways
To count to ten.
But problems often arise
If I could learn to write
In all those foreign scripts,
My bones would bleach outside
some Aramaic archive In Ethiopia.
Numbers come to me only
With certain exercises,
It’s hard to remember
Without the movement.
“ee-chee, nee, shan” 1,2,3
In Japanese.
“tesera, pende,eksi” 4,5 6
In Greek.
“shoe, oat-eh, nee, tee” 7,8,9,10 ,
In Norwegian.
Were I to count all of you
In this room,
I ‘d lose track of the tens
I’ve used.
Numbers are all business
Requiring total concentration,
No emotion, no romance.
I thought the French could do
Better than “katra, sank, sees”4,5,6
The Finns have numbers filled
With steamy passion:
“uksi, kaksi, kolome 1,2,3
My chest begins to tighten.
“nellia viisi, koosi” 4,5,6
My pulse races.
“saitseman, khadeksan, undeksan,
Kymmenen” 7,8,9,10
My breath becomes labored.
I’ve either found a numerical
Or I’m terribly out of shape.
I haven’t experimented
On the ladies,
But the doves in my back yard.
Seem to love it.
Sometimes I fantasize being taken
By terrorists.
Like the tales in Scheherazade,
I’m spared each day if I count
To ten in a different language.
Of course, with my luck
They would have a fixation
With the number eleven or 72.

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