Poet Jane Hirshfield said "... the feeling I have about poem-writing (is) that it is always an exploration, of discovering something I didn't already know.  Who I am shifts from moment to moment, year to year.  What I can perceive does as well.  A new poem peers into mystery, into whatever lies just beyond the edge of knowable ground."

I bring a different poem to the writing classes each week, not only to inspire but to introduce new poets to the group members.

Numbers by 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.

~ from Red Studio (Oberlin College Press, 2007)


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