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Friday, July 27, 2012

Algebra: A Caricature

24 April 2012

Yesterday I visited the math room
of my Alma mater.
Odd that strangers study 
with the phantoms of my former classmates.
The teacher is not gone,
kindly algebra-enthusiast
who wears the patient scars of years,
indelible chalk stains on her hands
and streaking through her hair
and drawing abstract art on
her loose, long sleeves.
She is forever
the proverbial professor
(not a little odd)
teaching in that room
with one eternal ticking clock
old when I was there- and frozen
In this room
where I bent over figures
with one orange calculator
twisting my being into 
mental acrobatics
not intended ever for mere mortals-
where I learned
frustration, anger, and the very rare
but precious
victory.
A million middle school emotions
mounting the hypotenuse
and cresting at the most acute of points
to slip down the straight edge 
at long last crashing
into the right angle.
A million is a rational number
unlike the end of Pi,
the favorite pleasure
of the dear professor
who marvels daily over
endless mysterious of manipulated sums.
I wonder
now that I recognize
arithmetic
as the abstract algorithms 
of the universe
which were chalked before me every day
the dust choking me
ignorant
believing it was nonsense
or else cruelty-
now that I realize 
that beauty and pain
are reciprocals
of one another
I wish to thank her
for the exercise 
of Truth.

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