Let y equal any number of fathers.
Let x equal the numberless planets.
Let y minus x equal long nights of fog
and let x plus y equal hydra & incubus.
If y is > x, why do all my convictions gape?
If x is > y, does “father” just mean nightcap?
When x ÷ y, we set sail on a windjammer.
When y ÷ x, watch for the banshee, the jinn.
Or let x be replaced by a midsummer night
and y by—well, you can never replace y but
by morning y will lollygag near half-moons:
Odysseus sailing to Ithaca, mildew as it rots.
And a b is no mere theory of relativity: it is
helter-skelter materfamilias, Ma Barker, and
Rebekkah, the mother who deceived. Not
Sarah who couldn’t conceive nor the Mother
of all of Nature: the black tern, the kittiwake;
plants ornamental, baroque; the cumulous,
the nebulosus; and yet, mother-of-pearl and
ice-cold, tiger’s-eye and monkey in the middle.
Let’s say a b is a % of all the love in the world
or synonymous with do you love me now that
I can dance? Let’s agree that a is the salsa or
paso doble and b is always always the beguine.
Copyright © 2021 by Lynne Thompson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 1, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.