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Calculations: A Love Poem

The billionth digit of pi is 9,
The last month without a full moon,
February, 1865—
This morning I am making a list
Of the last lines of parables
About the work of numbers, about
Calculations, marking the speed
With which blood travels, as if three feet
Per second were like the blessings
On the late workers in a vineyard
Or a son just home from living with swine.

Someone continues the division
That computes the decimals of pi—
He is telling a story, numerals
Spilling out toward infinity,
The counting a language, a life
Beyond this one, as difficult
To believe as the number of hours
We've slept together, darkness returning
And vanishing, the moments, nightly,
Between your breaths, the hesitations
In your deep sleep; my own held breath,
Listening, and then, temporarily
Relieved, turning toward the window,
Reciting the autonomic lesson
Of your lungs that swell and shrink
At last, in rhythm, their vital
Capacity, in liters, 3.1.

Gary Fincke

New England Review

Volume 34, Number 3-4 / 2014

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