Garrison Keillor Reads Math Poem

June 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm 1 comment

As Garrison Keillor said, “Here’s a poem for today by Mary Cornish, entitled Numbers.” (Or maybe you’d prefer to hear GK read the poem on The Writer’s Almanac.)

Numbers, by Mary Cornish

I like the generosity of numbers.
The way, for example,
they are willing to count
anything or anyone:
two pickles, one door to the room,
eight dancers dressed as swans.
I like the domesticity of addition—
add two cups of milk and stir
the sense of plenty: six plums
on the ground, three more
falling from the tree.

And multiplication’s school
of fish times fish,
whose silver bodies breed
beneath the shadow
of a boat.

Even subtraction is never loss,
just addition somewhere else:
five sparrows take away two,
the two in someone else’s
garden now.

There’s an amplitude to long division,
as it opens Chinese take-out
box by paper box,
inside every folded cookie
a new fortune.

And I never fail to be surprised
by the gift of an odd remainder,
footloose at the end:
forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,
with three remaining.

Three boys beyond their mothers’ call,
two Italians off to the sea,
one sock that isn’t anywhere you look.

About these ads

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , .

P(Winning Lottery) > 0… but Just a Little Overpaid Whistle Blowers

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. xhenderson  |  June 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing that—my wife and I normally change the station when the Writer’s Almanac comes on, but this is nice. I particularly like the relation between division and Chinese take out (with the obvious allusion to the Chinese Remainder Theorem).

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

MJ4MF (offline version)

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

Past Posts

June 2012
M T W T F S S
« May   Jul »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Enter your email address to subscribe to the MJ4MF blog and receive new posts via email.

Join 112 other followers

Visitor Locations

free counters

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 112 other followers

%d bloggers like this: