Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Solving for X, Searching for LIFE

     In January of this year I had the pleasure of attending a poetry reading featuring Linda Pastan and Le Hinton -- Linda Pastan's mathy poem "Algebra" is posted here and a blog SEARCH using her name can find other gems.  Pennsylvania poet Le Hinton's poem, "Baseball," appears in a 2015 posting at this link and below I offer his "Solving for X."

Solving for X     by Le Hinton

Because your father was a teacher,
he set up a blackboard to teach you math.

You were four, almost five, learning the difference
between more and less.  How to add.  When to subtract.  How
to savor a piece of candy when you got an answer exactly right.

He died on your ninth birthday
precisely when his kidneys reached zero.

Each filtration rate a little less than the week
before, each week a lesson in pure subtraction.

One side of the board add (days), on the other side deduct (life).
Because your father was a teacher,

he died on your ninth birthday,
leaving the poetry of your life for your mom to explain,
the higher math to someone else,

and you, on your own to figure out what is left,
which equations can and can't be solved for X.

"Solving for X"  was first published (2016) in Little Patuxent Review;  I found it in my copy of Hinton's collection Sing Silence (Iris G. Press, Lancaster, 2018).

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