by Halifax
least transcendental possible
the left forefinger goes behind the thumb
forming a zero
unreachable it pinches the index in line with an empty bookcase
four tall shelves it has
the third one built special to house a priceless wedding album
it is a hollow threat
overtightened against efforts to steal guarantees that do not exist
perfection burrows deep after
something even better than a fist
the tail end of the mouse curls around
a grub coils in wait for spring
though enfeebled
a scourge of beetles in time
pitiful seeds
promises seem
how many survive having been buried for later
go on to seek the light

0 thoughts on “e

  1. Follow the instructions and perhaps the most transcendental letter will emerge. Your hand automatically forms an e with the remaining fingers. Go on to enter the poet’s world of a “bookcase” built to “house a priceless wedding album,” which isn’t there, because the bookcase is “empty.” representing a broken marriage: “a hollow threat” referring back to the “zero” formed by your hand and the marriage vow, “overtightened against efforts to steal guarantees that do not exist.” (fine line) “Perfection” enters, oddly, and “burrows deep after something even better than a fist”–that spread-out e made by your hand–which connects with life underground–a mouse, a grub, beetles, seeds, aha, promises–though “buried” and “enfeebled,” “waiting for spring,” and, while maybe not surviving, going “on to seek the light.” An ironic and maybe hopeful demonstration of how nature (human and at large) works.

  2. Well, I’m thinking the poem is a mnemonic for the Euler number (e)and that each line has the same number of e’s as the corresponding decimal place (2.71828182845904523…). [left click and drag down from the title ‘e’ and it appears.]
    The number e is a famous irrational number, and is one of the most important numbers in mathematics. e is also a transcendental number. A Transcendental Number is any number that is not an Algebraic Number. [From ‘Math is Fun’ .com].
    I’m fascinated with the comparison and contrast of the 1st and 2nd halves of this poem. The first half deals with: hand, zero (later empty and hollow), bookcase, and wedding album. The 2nd: mouse, grub, beetles, seeds, light. The mouse tail & grub worm coiled also resembles an ‘e’ like the hand in the first half. A grub turns into a June bug or beetle. What month are we in? June. I like the play on words double meaning also with ‘a grub coils in wait for spring’ (a spring coils). In the first part of the poem there is ascension with the bookcase, then in the 2nd part descension, and ending with the posed questioned how many will “go on to seek the light” or unbury themselves. This up/down motif resembles the Euler number going from high to low in much of its sequence. The metaphor in the 2nd part of the poem allows the reader to become the grub, the seed, seeking light. The metaphor in the first part is more difficult for me to grasp. Perhaps it is the challenge to fill our bookcase with meaning (or books) and maybe the futility of building a life on outer constructs which we only think are good for us i.e. an ill-conceived marriage (‘priceless wedding album’).
    Lots to wrap one’s mind around in this piece. Very good!

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