The Mathematician’s Daughter
But what of the cul-de-sac of her childhood?
The slow circling of bases on the dusty diamond,
calculator in hand?
The unraveling of ribbons on warm Saturday afternoons?
Her knack, yes, for movie theaters
and the sheer pagination of her intellect.
Her ability to plumb the depths of bodies in motion
to retrieve artifacts long forgotten
pinning onlookers to the mast with her proofs
as she practiced higher-order equations
on the sweet-smelling turf
under autumn’s orange sky.
Forget as well that she knew by heart
the names of Leibniz’s monads
the mass appeal of transits
the high rise of sorts with the stop sign in front
the vase of freshly-cut delphinium.
I once found her calibrating the pulsating, scratchy music
of stoops, wearing a smile filled with late hours –
hours spent spread-eagled over reams of graph paper
lined with doodles and obscure footnotes
from the sixteenth century –
her first four words as illuminating as ever.
She tried hard to find happiness in coefficients
in the beauty of imaginary numbers
staying the required course despite the odds
instead of shortcutting to the breakfast nook without a word –
an unmade bed, some fast food bristling in the wastebasket
the canned soups in her cupboard
arranged as they were in powers of ten.
In the end, she returned to the lecture hall
where, amid furious note-taking, she had once plotted our future
filling the whiteboard and the air
with intricate drawings of the Interstate at dawn
calculating the logarithmic distance from x to y to z.