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)
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!