by Robert Donohue
“You’re trapped inside a pyramid and you’re
Annoyed” was how a trapezoid was first
Explained to me, and, by extension, all
Of geometry, this was second grade
And my instructor then was Mrs. L.
Along with mathematics, Mrs. L
Would introduce the world of poetry
To me; you found it using your third eye,
She said, assigning us a poem of
Our own to write (she loved the one I did)
The two legs of this compass should have made
A perfect circle, a well-rounded student,
And should have made a more well-rounded psyche,
To reconcile spirit with the world,
But Mrs. L leaned towards the mystical
And I would take her prejudice to heart.
To say I should have given math a chance
Might seem absurd. I cannot calculate,
Yet there are stranger things, like deaf musicians,
And I can spell as well as solve for x,
Which is to say I cannot spell at all,
But with a flourish Mrs. L would chose
And I obeyed; a poet I became.
The flourish was a gesture she performed
As witness to my struggles with a worksheet.
I simply couldn’t multiply. She tore
The trouble-making page in half
In front of the entire class; my work
Was to be less than theirs, but it would count
The same, according to the effort spent.
Well, why not wear things down to zero, was
The thought temptation threw in front of me,
But Mr. L had made a poster of
My poem, hanging it upon the wall,
So from my obstinacy I arose
To occupy a rare and lofty sphere,
(My poem, after all, was on display,
A testament to my ability)
But all around me there was work undone.
This bothered me, like Shelley with his debts,
And no amount of specialness reduced
The dunning of imagined creditors,
That’s when I went to Mrs. L for help.
I found her, sitting as the lotus, on
Her desk, and her position settled it.