from

**You Are Right**

In your super-logical,

analytical,

bumbling way,

with halting speech

and much digression,

you explain that male

mathematicians are rarely

verbal . . . .

from

**The Mathematician, Counting**

One cannot help loving a mathematician.

Such guts, such pizzaz!

Plump Copernicus, full of round theories;

Euclid, pondering his postulates

and counting, always counting

toward a finite infinity.

All the while, the heart's

little time bomb is busy,

adding and subtracting.

I have seen both the sun

and the moon in the morning

What does this prove?

Some superstition?

Some old astronomer's tale?

No, no . . .only the proof of our spinning--

the geometry of the universe.

. . .

The complete poems appear in Essinger's collection

*A Desk in the Elephant House*(Texas Tech Univ Press, 1998) and in the anthology

*Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics*(A K Peters, 2008).

Poet Kathabela Wilson and Rick Wilson are spouses. Rick is a mathematics professor at Cal Tech who specializes in combinatorics and Kath writes poetry as she attends conference with him. The following poem was written at the International Workshop on Combinatorics, Keio University, Yokohama, Japan, June, 2007. Kathabela's poem-title is also the title of a textbook by Rick.

**A Course in Combinatorics**

If you meet my eyes

looking over the hydrangeas

how do you know your computer will work

what are your lower bounds

what the parameters the minimal explanation

of our complicated interaction?

how could we generalize to maximize our aim

what probabalistic asymptotic

computational construct could make this

roux for two

covering arrays displaying

our pairwise compatiblity

Now into the serene pool the look

amidst the framing moss and tall grass

nodes, degrees, diameters,

our eyes are bubble sorts recursively constructed

staring through bamboo channels

floating rafts of iris

How can you keep me

pristine, singular, for yourself against

suspicious users unwilling to pay the price?

embed me

watermark imperceptibly

what you want to keep

Through paths into the hills

we've relaxed our plan thanks to your intent

let go one end of it

that need not be on the circumference

we're decomposing bridges

found low ceilinged a darkish cave

a subpath of our outer walk,

a subgraph of a particular kind

let this be our focus,

the long time representative

surface of us has wrapped around itself

and our embrace has turned spherical

our proof is elementary but not trivial

consider the rational coefficients

the number of congruences

the power of our prime

the bound is the best possible identity

we omit the details

Wilson's poem has appeared in

*Totem*, Caltech Literary and Visual Arts Magazine (June 2009) and in a combinatorics newsletter. She thanks mathematicians Rick Wilson, Charles Colbourn, Frank Hsu, Takashi Kitagawa, and Mark Ellingham, and the gardens of Kamakura for their influence on the poem.

## No comments:

## Post a Comment