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Teaching Numbers

Californian Gary Soto writes for both children and adults and much of his work suits both groups. Here from A Fire in My Hands (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) is "Teaching Numbers":
** Teaching Numbers** by Gary Soto
I've never been
good at math. I know
nothing about algebra,
and calculus would hurt
my brain. But I know
enough to begin to
teach my daughter
to count to one
hundred.
The moon is one,
The early stars a few more . . .
The sycamore is lean
With sparrows, four perhaps,
Three hunched like hoods
And one by itself, wiping a beak
In the rag of his shoulder.
From where we sit
We could count to a thousand
By pointing at oranges
On trees, bright lanterns
Against the dusk, globes
Of water that won't come down.
Follow me with this, then:
A stray on two legs
At a trash can, one kite in a tree,
And a couple with four hands,
Three in pockets and one scratching
An ear busy with sound:
Door, cat, scrambling leaf.
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(The world understand numbers,
And at birth we're not given much.
When we're lowered into the earth
We're even less, a broken
Toy of 108 bones and 23 teeth
That won't stop laughing.)
But let's not talk about this.
For the dog is happy with an eggshell
And oranges are doing wonders
At this hour in the trees.
There is popcorn to pick
From my small bowl of hands.
Let's start again
With numbers that will help.
The moon is one,
The early stars a few more . . .
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