Poet Stephanie Strickland majored in mathematics as an undergraduate and she uses mathematical imagery freely in her work -- in a career that has included pioneering leadership in creating and understanding electronic literature. The following paper-and-ink poem, "Numberbody," is part of a collection that celebrates and illuminates the French philosopher Simone Weil.
Numberbody by Stephanie Strickland
The world stained to the bone raven blue
with mathematics as an embryo
is stained clear through with amniotic
fluid. Number does not give things
a form. It gives them a body
and makes them understandable--the way
a gnomon makes understandable
eddying of shadow: a sun-dial's witness.
Walk around. Experience
successive appearances produced by the Sun.
By this operation only will you know
what is real: Invariant: the field
that governs the carnations. Deep stain
--if we feel it--reminds us
of amniotic fluid. We are all
obedient: constrained. Necessarily.
are consciously obedient,
feeling the absence
like a phantom heart or limb.
From The Red Virgin: A Poem of Simone Weil, (University of Wisconsin Press, 1993). Dates of this blog's previous postings of Strickland's work include: 6 July 2010 and 6 February 2011.