Thursday, June 8, 2023

Inventing Zero

     A Pennsylvania friend who is now in Oklahoma, Sharon Solloway -- whom I got to know when we were both faculty members at Bloomsburg University (now part of Commonwealth University)  --  shared with me on Facebook the following mathy poem,  "Inventing Zero" by Canadian astronomer Rebecca Elson (1960-1999).  Found in Elson's collection,  A  Responsibility to Awe (Carcanet Classics, 2018)  "Inventing Zero" is available along with other samples of Elson's work here at this link.

       Inventing Zero      by Rebecca Elson

               First it was lines in the sand,
               The tangents, intersections,
               Things that never met,
               And you with your big stick,
               Calling it geometry,   

               Then numbers, counting
               One and two, until
               A wind blew up
               And everything was gone,
               Blank to the horizon.

               Less than two for me
               But cunning you,
               You found a whole new
               Starting point:

               Let it have properties,
               And power
               To make things infinite,
               Or nothing,
               Or simply hold a space.

Poetry by Elston also has been included in this blog in this earlier posting.

1 comment:

  1. The last verse resonates with me. I memorized it giving it conscious permission to “hold a space” in my mind.