Daily Poem

  • From the archives — The Gift of Numbers — Andy Macera

    The Gift of Numbers

    On the first morning you were nervous,
    your thoughts spooked, running wild,
    trying to calm enthusiasm
    by practicing multiplication tricks,
    the ones you were anxious,
    to teach the students, a magician
    pulling surprises from the yellow sleeve
    of a pencil, the concepts and patterns
    that came so easily to you,
    hardwired for math,
    as if you had an extra finger
    or were double jointed,
    a gift you could give
    by simply blowing chalk dust
    from the palm of your hand,
    allowing them to step
    through the blackboard
    into the wonderful world of numbers
    where each student passes,
    waving from a dazzling float,
    a marching band leading the way,
    while you lean from a window
    to whistle and applaud. Instead,
    you return each afternoon to find
    the avenues and boulevards empty,
    the classroom lines of lost faces,
    galley slaves chained to rowing benches,
    listening to their song of struggle
    against the horrible beast of confusion
    guarding the gate to the garden
    of understanding, even though
    you hold it open to show the answer,
    obvious and clear, begging them to come in,
    but they just sit, frustrated and exhausted,
    counting on the clock or the calendar,
    how long before the period ends,
    the days until summer.

    by Andy Macera

    from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 20, January 2011

    Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim