Friday, November 4, 2011

Regarding Math


Regarding Math

(problems, indeed)

Among his several problems with mathematical equations
was that he had no trouble letting x be x and y be y. He
silently advised them to remain letters. He did wish for them
that they didn't have exponents sitting on their shoulders
like unseemly growths. Also a problem is that he saw

both sides of an equation as art--assemblages of parentheses,
letters, numbers, and other symbols--and he didn't care
what they stood for.  They stood for the image they created.

Then there was the problem of his seeing--there, in the middle--
an equal-sign.  He thought, if each side is content to be equal
to the other, who am I to intrude on this amicable truce?
They were the same, apparently, so let them be. He didn't

care to know their secrets.  Forced to solve an equation,
he did so, but it never felt like success, and he never
recalls anyone explaining why equations had to be solved.

He does remember sitting next to pretty girls in math class
and smelling their hair and their thin sweaters, and looking
at their painted nails, and thinking, "Let these girls
stand for beauty. Yes, let's equate them with allure."

Copyright 2011 Hans Ostrom
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