**Infinity in Simple Terms**

Say you own a hotel.

No, it does not matter if it is a nice hotel,

only that it has rooms that count from one to

infinity by – well, pick any number

– by one because counting by ones is easy.

So you have this hotel.

Yes, you would need to employ

many maids and bellhops and bartenders,

maybe even those special detectives

like in a noir mystery from after the war,

but that is not the point. The point is

you have infinite rooms, starting with one,

two, three, four, and so on to infinity

whether they have been turned or not.

Suddenly, a bus with infinite seats –

What? Infinite hotel rooms, those you can

wrap your mind around but an infinite bus is silly?

Fine, all you need to do is agree

the bus has infinite passengers.

You have infinite rooms.

Everyone has a place until –

No, not everyone can have the room next to the ice machine unless

you have an infinite number of ice machines.

If it will make you happy,

infinite ice machines.

May I continue?

Infinite bus, infinite rooms, and now

infinite ice machines that are quiet, clean, and full,

everyone in place – with enough ice – when suddenly

a second infinite bus arrives.

You have to give a little bit here. If you were

okay with infinite rooms, there must be an infinite bus, and if

there is one, there can always be two because

that is how numbers work.

Look, you have infinite ice machines.

I get a second infinite bus or we will never

get to the end of this.

So infinite people are in infinite rooms

numbered by ones and well-stocked with ice,

but you have an infinite number of new people

needing beds and ice and the supervision

of men in fedoras watching for any hanky-panky.

So what do you do? You

count by halves because after all

anything whole can be split in two.

That is how numbers work.

The new people go into rooms one point five,

two point five, three point five, and so on.

We will take as a given they can share

an ice machine.

Numbers are divisible. So infinity

can have more infinity neatly

slotted between its folds like

the twice infinite people tucked tightly in

newly pressed sheets with stern faced men

in suits and skinny ties watching over them –

yes, and their ice machines –

as they dream of the next infinite bus

shuttled into rooms one point one,

seventeen point eight, nine, six, five.

Your room split between mine,

as we close our doors on theoretical hallways,

fall onto identical, polyester duvets

and listen to the wing-tipped footsteps,

the hum of compressors making shared ice.

by Amy K. Drees

Twitter: @selfrisinmojo

*Editor’s Note*: The seemingly unending sentences in this poem underscore the theme quite well. Those who enjoy the puzzle of repetition and punctuation will enjoy the way this poem leads the reader into a theoretical space that is only real because we agree to believe it so.

I kept thinking, “And they lived in the house that Jack built.” What a wonderful poem to start my day. Witty, conversational, satisfying.

“Infinity in Simple Terms” is entertaining in so many ways. A well-known writer, now deceased, J.F. Powers once told me a writer is nothing but an entertainer; if you don’t entertain a reader, they will stop reading. Of course, entertainment also means suggesting that your reader also thinks a little about what you’ve written. Thinking is entertaining. We should do more of it. This poem is so entertaining I’m going to read it again and again.