Thursday, October 8, 2015

Daughter and Father - a warm geometry . . .

     Kate Stange is a mathematician -- from the Canadian province of Ontario and now at the University of Colorado -- whose father, Ken Stange, is a visual artist and poet. I met them on the internet via our combined interests in the intersections of poetry and mathematics. Lots of years ago, Kate gathered an online anthology of mathy poems. One of her recent online ventures is the development of WIN -- Women in Number Theory.  Below I offer one of Ken Stange's poems, taken from his collection Advice to Travellers (Penumbra, 1994).

Don't Mistake Your Mirror for a Window on the World     by Ken Stange

A reflection is both a thought about the world and the image we see in the mirror. -- Hippokrites

Consider your daughter's first smile.   
You imagine it aimed at you
but it is not you she sees;
she has no 'you'
in her visual vocabulary.
Those are two circles
(not eyes)
and that an upturned arc
(no mouth);
you are only a warm geometry
a comfort like the spherical dark.
She is smiling at herself
for everything is still part
of her, the world
an extension of her body --
no more, nor less
recalcitrant than her arm as she swats at toys.
Her smile is simply a physiological
and wry
So what is it then (you ask)
when you reflexively smile back?

Another of Ken Stange's poems, "Don't Trust the Distance Markers," is found in this posting from October, 2010

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