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What I don’t know about mathematics
could fill a pie chart, an abacus, a secret code.

I know zero about algebra—
equations of letters with meaningless parentheses

(is this where one whispers a revelation,
an elation of elevens?), where A times B doesn’t mean

abs or shorthand for abstraction.
Euclidian geometry is a mystery to me

but the sound of it creates symmetrical shapes
in my mouth. Centimeters, polyhedrals, rectangles,

all that pi. Perhaps I’m dyscalculic
and calculations become something like ululations

on my tongue. I can’t count to five and chew gum
at the same time.  Adding fractions causes panic—

my four-chambered heart starts beating in double time
and if I start to meditate on my breath, counting

the intake and output, I get lost realizing infinity
isn’t really inside of me and that my breath

does have a sum, that which will be
my last. Wait. Let’s recalculate.

One moment plus one moment plus one moment—
I don’t even want to know the total.


Carol Berg’s poems are in SlipstreamSou’westerThe JournalSpillwayRedactionsZone 3, and elsewhere. Her chapbook Her Vena Amoris is available from Red Bird Chapbooks, and her chapbooks Ophelia Unraveling and The Ornithologist Poems are available from dancing girl press. She received a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.


Issue 8 >