it has been a problem of numbers
in rows like sunflowers
their sum differences
the size of a space of a letter
to be apart instead of
a part

in isolation we had to watch
the unthinkable
like tiger king and the deer
walking downtown streets
in nashville i’ve grown old

and been born again
ten thousand times
in twenty-four months
the tick tock of everything
at once all the time
like mass multiplied
by the speed of light
above us the wingtips’
tracers blinking the moon
is a raccoon with a stick
through its neck pointed
at hidden water:
sometimes it’s best to just say a thing
look, we’re different now

our small imaginary numbers
transformed into calculus
measuring the infinitesimal changes
or the exponential swell of a moment
like you and i
when we went back to the drive-in
and had a coke with milk duds
how caramel tasted like sky

Poet’s Note

The poem is my one and only about isolation during COVID-19. The pandemic experience has seen parts striving for the whole. People trying to connect or reconnect to themselves or their community. People trying to understand the totality of the virus and how to navigate it based on partial knowledge. In respect to that, math has become more a part of our daily discussion. Once again, taking parts and hoping to understand the whole. Percentage cases. Exponential growth. Probabilities. Statistics. In the poem, wingtip lights cause visual tracers – trace hints at the larger, unseen airliner. A whole that is real, but hundreds of people zooming through the sky in a metal tube continues to feel like a monumental miracle to me.  Despite it all, miracles continue to occur in our everyday life. I find that comforting. After two years of COVID, I also finally appreciate how the small things can grow exponentially into miracle-ness. As William Blake said, "To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower," or maybe even a milk dud.