Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Venn Diagrams

      During these days of classifying people and points of view, my thoughts turn again and again to Venn Diagrams and I am then reminded of a thoughtful poem about math in grade-school days (by Pennsylvania poet and professor Marjorie Maddox) that I first read long ago -- and I offer it here:  

Learn about Venn Diagrams here

Venn Diagrams     

          by Marjorie Maddox   

There, stuck in that class,
chalking circles on a board 
       so high your toes ached,
an inch of sock exposed,
all for the sake of subsets,
That teacher with the tie too bright for day,
wide as your fingers spread  

he knew. How even now
worlds swerve in, out, curvilinear,
a trajectory, an extrapolation from that fourth grade:
cowlick, shy wink, lunch box, desk carved with initials,
stacked, bisected, bisected again into lives or

one life divided recursively,
your miracle, you
halved like loaves and fishes.

Mornings you sit, slicing bread,
point in a line between you and . . . .

Through the window the world juxtaposes itself.
Drill perpendicular to concrete.
A jay: coordinate in the grid of an oak.
You part your hair diagonally, unfold the paper. 

Those Venn diagrams,
circles with the double cross,
shaded gray, are now.
The overlap: same mouth, nose.

You tilt into different lives without breathing,
love ten people at once/no one.
You eat an apple,
tap your foot to Zeppelin,
fingers to Bach.

Do you see? The circles shift.
Pry your fingers in.
Behind the chalk.
Behind the two dimensions.

"Venn Diagrams" has appeared in Prairie Schooner (1990), Oak Review (2001), in Maddox's collection Perpendicular as I (Sandstone, 1995) and in Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (AK Peters/CRC Press, 2008) edited by Sarah Glaz and JoAnne Growney.   Much more about Maddox and her wonderful productivity is available here at her website.

No comments:

Post a Comment