POEM: Disintegrating Calculus Problem

By McKENZIE TOMA: A dramatic clue lodged in a rockface.
Set in a shimmering sound belt slung around the grasses. Collections of numbers signify a large sum, a fatness that cannot be touched.
Numbers are heart weight in script. Calculus means a small pebble pushed around maniacally.
Binding affection, instead of fear, to largeness.

Ideas are peeled into fours and pinned on the warm corners of earth to flap in a wind.
Wind, the product of a swinging axe that splits the sums.
This math flowers on the tender back of the knee.
An operatic leaf in the tree uses a secret algebra to perforate dense void.
The void behaves as a porous slice of rye bread spread thick with salted butter.

Food is braided into the body.
On the watchface of the lake, a felled tree trunk keeps protracted time.
Circling vaguely like the day does.
The circle is dented by the dense tear of a woman without the thing she needs.
A loudness about need has a reverse effect.
The loud need loses mass.
This new thinned need is braided into a story archived in a dark library inaccessible to the public.

The tear weighs the same as a loaf of rye bread.
The circle is made of birthday wishes glued together with morning sun mucus.
Whatever is hidden is pluckable in time, even sound and meaning.
Wind deserves a trophy for revealing this elegantly.

Copyright © 2021 by McKenzie Toma. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 21, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

“This poem was written in Iowa City, Iowa. It is part of a series of poems that investigate identity and the self in conversation with void. It speaks to applying mathematical sense to issues that feel beyond the scope of organization and intelligence.” —McKenzie Toma