She sucked at numbers
but not doing a number on people.
She sucked at formulas—
unless it was using one to write a book.
She sucked at statistics—
unless it was calculating what percentage of time
her husband effed up,
so rather than be a good little mathematician,
she just painted by the numbers
& did a number on anyone . . .
until her number was up.
When Dewey Decimal met Frances Fraction,
he was turned off by her getting mixed up with integers,
even though she was often half a woman
(sometimes even a third or a quarter),
even as she was turned off by his referencing
of word collections as numbers.
Then, during an evening constitutional,
while walking on opposite sides of the street,
they were accosted by Samuel F. B. Morse,
who robbed Dew of his dot,
& Fran, her dash,
proclaiming that it was for “The Greater Good.”
It was only through this violation of their middle parts
(& the regeneration thereof),
that Dew & Fran were able to meet each other halfway
& coexist in the field of mathematics,
where they realized that they were mere forms
of the same numbers,
subject to conversion.
The Shutterfly edition
She was Earth Science,
She was as easy
as he was hard,
for she was the only world she knew,
even as he was everything else.
He was Math Lab,
she, Writing Lab.
She liked to make her case
by pointing out the existence
of word problems,
even as he liked to make his
by saying that the words
were the problem.
She’d graduated from the University of Strunk & White,
& he, from the School of Hard Knocks.
He taught her how to defend herself
even as she taught him how to present himself.
She’d just passed her last math class,
only to pick super-mathy Astronomy
as her natural science.
When she passed what seemed like
she became a high school tutor.
When the math tutors deserted her,
going on an American Pi Day road trip
to every diner on Route 66,
she had to dredge up
from her repressed memory
all that nonsense about imaginary numbers.
When she finally escaped math,
it was too late,
for her number was up.
All those months ago,
she’d wondered if she would be able to pass the math—
not because she wasn’t a hard worker,
but because remembering was a struggle and
because numbers mixed with letters spelled chaos for her.
she would be a first-time college graduate—
twenty years since she had graduated from high school and
twenty years she had spent learning
not what she wanted to do,
but what she didn’t want to do.
She had started her college journey for the money,
but had stayed the course for something more.
Another semester has come to an end,
and that one class she feared so much,
once upon a long time ago,
for she learned,
through persistence that sometimes followed anger
at having to learn so much bull (yes, that kind),
that she was smart enough for college after all.
It only took almost twenty years
for her to figure that out.
I come with coffee,
which is a bit of a cheat,
But it gets me going,
to get it done–
all those things that
make my eyes glaze,
my brain become dazed,
as they are so politically-correctly called)
Finals are almost here,
and then I can toss all my notes
into the bonfire
while drinking my java,
spiked with vodka.
Sounds like a social disease.
Well, it did turn her into a math lab rat.
Maybe that explains her pinkeye & insanity.
Elementary, they call it,
yet it’s anything but,
for what the hell does standard deviation
and correlation coefficient even mean?
So many hours spent crunching meaningless numbers,
yet she’ll put up with this horse puckey
a little while longer,
so she can graduate and get back to linguistics.
Because she read,
she learned how to read.
Because she wrote,
she learned how to write.
Because she practiced math,
she learned how to solve problems
that didn’t always make sense.