Numbers, like the sun, are too bold, bald
and paunchy with themselves –
under their stare I am without negotiation;
conversation is a dappled act, fleeting
and burnished like glint and shade.
To be caught in a city square and longing
for plane trees, the language
of light, shadow, suggestion….
Try algebra for recovery,
a weed-threshed and brave pause
between four-square architecture.
The city bares its fractions, decimals,
the repossessed dwellings, the doorway sleepers;
a grin, all teeth, a full-glare growl:
’What is the square root of minus one?’
and I’m down, flailing, blinded.
And all the angles of buildings mock me.
The city an abacus, strung baking in the sun;
beads floating on querulous math, an economy
the tectonic drift of markets.
It raises a fume, extrapolates from quantity
a insubstantial purpose, partial identity,
draped over and confusing windows, doors,
our personal drives, our private contours.
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