An Expostulation to My Daughter, Concerning Mathematics

Henry Millstein

Kristen, you’re right to hate
mathematics. There are too many
answers, and not enough questions.

Still, sometimes even numbers
have their truth, fierce as mountain lions
in the hills that ring the city. Only

one must not let oneself be hemmed in
by them, not even when they come at you,
jaws agape, battening on their own

fury. You can make yourself bigger
than they, even without
counting. It’s a matter of zeroes

singing over and over in the drought-
ridden landscape. Even the trees
sing it, desperate for moisture.

Pity you can’t write the real answers
on any exam. There are never enough
zeroes to go around. Too many right answers

and none that are wrong, and true.

 

 

One thought on “An Expostulation to My Daughter, Concerning Mathematics

  1. Such a philosophical poem. The ending works like a stick of dynamite exploding. But some of the images carry explosive power too: the mountain lions “battening on their own fury”; or the zeros “singing over and over in the drought-/ ridden landscape.” Marvelous.

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