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Numbers Analysis



Author: poem of Mary Cornish Type: poem Views: 17

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I like the generosity of numbers.

The way, for example,

they are willing to count

anything or anyone:

two pickles, one door to the room,

eight dancers dressed as swans.



I like the domesticity of addition--

add two cups of milk and stir--

the sense of plenty: six plums

on the ground, three more

falling from the tree.



And multiplication's school

of fish times fish,

whose silver bodies breed

beneath the shadow

of a boat.



Even subtraction is never loss,

just addition somewhere else:

five sparrows take away two,

the two in someone else's

garden now.



There's an amplitude to long division,

as it opens Chinese take-out

box by paper box,

inside every folded cookie

a new fortune.



And I never fail to be surprised

by the gift of an odd remainder,

footloose at the end:

forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,

with three remaining.



Three boys beyond their mothers' call,

two Italians off to the sea,

one sock that isn't anywhere you look.






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