Monday, November 14, 2022

Who is the GOD of ARITHMETIC?

     Recently I have learned (from poet and Capillano University professor Lisa Lajeunesse -- who enjoys linking mathematics and the arts) of the work of Canadian poet Lorna Crozier.  Author of more than a dozen poetry collections and recipient of five honorary degrees, Crozier is versatile and widely read.   Here is one of her fascinating poems:

     God of ARITHMETIC      by Lorna Crozier

     Most children no longer know who this god is. For one thing,
     he uses chalk as if time does everything but erase. In aban-
     doned country schools, he prints columns of numbers on the
     blackboards. There are no pupils to add them up and call
     out the answers though his pockets burn with stars to give
     away. His worshippers, in danger of dying out, recite the
     time tables like Hail Marys under their breath to prove their
     minds are still okay. No matter what they’ve lost—the word
     geranium, the birthdates of their children—they can do their
     sums. He wanted his only commandment to be included on
     the tablets Moses brought down from the mountain, but the
     others, bartering for space, thought it was only about arithme-
     tic and left it out. It would have changed the world. It would
     have made us kinder. Thou shalt carry the one, he intones to
     the small desks in empty classrooms, carry the one.

Copyright © Lorna Crozier. Originally published in God of Shadows (McClelland & Stewart/Random House, 2018). 

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