April 19, 2014
Calculus

Before social studies on Thursday, a boy

stands at a chalkboard spreading an equation

full of symbols that to my non-mathematical eye

look pulled from a dream. He left lunch early. He’s killing time.

 

Variable calculus, he says, a magician in need

of very little banter. He’s engaged

with an alphabet of arcing trajectories — simple harmonic motion —

satisfying balances on both sides as he goes,

but what I know looking back on it now,

is that his mother will be dead within three days.

What he knew

was the wiring

between her brain and body

couldn’t stop firing

an unbroken string of signals

that might as well have been

our own amplified broadcasts

to the Crab Nebulae,

and that later in the afternoon

he’d walk his little brother home from school, to watch TV.

At the chalkboard, with his quick notations and erasures,

he was passing time, solving, he said,

for the rate of change.

 

-Kirk Robinson (Lake County)

 

kirk woverhead

A graduate of the MFA program at Ohio State, his poems have appeared in a variety of literary magazines, including RATTLE and VQR. He works at Calumet College of St. Joseph and lives in Munster, with his wife Kate, and their children, Audrey, Magnolia, and Leo.

Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem from an Indiana poet every day in April (hand-selected by Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras). Check in daily to see who is featured next!

 

Posted In: Poetry

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