Poetry Friday: Numbers

September 23rd, 2011

This week we have a math poem by Mary Cornish that appears in Kassia Omohundro Wedekind’s new book, Math Exchanges. Enjoy this poem and then head over to the Stenhouse site to preview the book online. Kassia will be embarking on a four-stop blog tour starting October 3.

Mary Cornish

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.

Entry Filed under: math,Poetry Friday

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Poetry Friday: Road Work &hellip  |  September 23rd, 2011 at 7:35 am

    […] 1. In Ordinary Time by Gemino Abad (Gathering Books) 2. Tabatha (Engraving the Emptiness) 3. Amy LV (original poem, “Asters”) 4. Steven Withrow (Poetry Advocates) 5. Teaching Authors (Nikki Grimes) 6. Author Amok (Living Poetry Flash Mob Classroom Instructions) 7. Dori Reads (Praise Poems) 8. Carol (Book Review- A Funeral in the Bathroom) 9. Mary Lee (Casting for Recovery and Emily Dickinson) 10. Robyn Hood Black (snakes and a Jane Hirshfield poem) 11. Maria Horvath’s Daily Poems: a love poem from thirteenth- century Andalusia 12. Diane Mayr (the equinox) 13. Kids of the Homefront Army (“What Makes an Enemy?”) 14. Kurious Kitty (“Painters”) 15. Heidi Mordhorst (birthday boy and guest poet) 16. KK’s Kwotes (quote by Muriel Rukeyser) 17. jama (Those Biscuits) 18. The Stenhouse Blog (Numbers) […]

  • 2. Linda Baie  |  September 23rd, 2011 at 9:25 am

    It’s such a lovely poem that looks at numbers as integral parts of our thoughtful lives. It would be nice to see all math teachers introduce numbers like this.

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