Quote of the Day


Friday Poetry: Numbers by Mary Cornish

Mary Cornish, in addition to being a delightful and insightful poet, is a lovely person. Prior to taking her current post at Fairhaven College she taught in the same Community College department as do I. She dresses beautifully, in a shawl and classy boots and beautiful hair and a ever-present Elizabeth Taylor smile sort of way; she is the sort of woman I'd like to be when I grow up: very strong, very feminine. Here is one of her most oft' published poems, appearing in Poetry magazine and in physics and mathematics textbooks and has even been incorporated in to the SAT. I clipped it out of a (I think) Alumni newsletter. Mary has one collection of poems, Red Studio, Winner of the 2006 FIELD Poetry Prize.


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.

Here is the coding if you want a button with a link to this week's round-up.

:: this post is part of the Friday Poetry roundup hosted by Hip Writer Mama.


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