POEM: Mathematics

BY JEANNIE WALLACE MCKEOWN

My mathematics is functional.
It can balance a bank account
or divide a lemon meringue pie
into eight (almost) equal slices.

It can’t plot galaxies using radio waves,
or decipher an exploding star.
My maths could never be called telemetry.
It isn’t abstract.

It plods in the everyday; raincoat on,
umbrella to hand, sturdy shoes.
It doesn’t dance or make art
or draw meaning from the night sky.

My maths is proletarian.
It knows its place:
small change and headcounts,
cake recipes and monthly bills.

My mathematics suspects
that other people’s maths is different.
A numbered brick in a prosaic wall,
it dreams of being a window.

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