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Saturday, June 22, 2019


by Tricia Knoll

We have to assume other people do his math.
Fill out the multiple lines on multiple forms
with different answers depending on to whom
he is giving his tax returns. Maybe he is even
math challenged and would never check
those figures for exaggerations. How would
he know one from the other; his life is base-ten
on bloat. We know he thinks parts per million
of CO2 in the atmosphere are not proportionate
with disturbing one fraction of a second of his time.

The military did the recent math for him,
he hadn’t asked until late in the game
about the rules: how many people could die
to balance the loss of a drone. He says
one hundred and fifty is too many.
Not proportionate. (And ludicrously
low we suspect.) So are they sitting
around right now trying to decide
what is the right proportion? A figure
that works for a world teetering
on the brink of another war disaster?
Math you can explain to a child
who can hold up two fingers
to tell his age?

He might be able to handle the old daisy oracle.
It’s pretty simple. Pluck a petal. Pluck a petal.
He loves me. He loves me not.

Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet whose work appears widely in journals and anthologies. She is spending a lot of time pulling up invasive species in a woods, thinking about math and probabilities.