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


2 responses to “From the archives — The Gift of Numbers — Andy Macera”

  1. Dana Kinsey Avatar

    From one teacher to another, this imaginative poem captures every emotion from the rush of magic to the inevitable frustration. I love it.

  2. Margot Brown Avatar
    Margot Brown

    As a student who failed algebra three times, and the child of a man who got his masters in physics, (the same man who tried to tutor me in algebra but never got through), i see through both portals of this poem beautifully. So nicely executed!

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