unveil themselves in dark. They hang, each a jagged, silken sleeve, from moonlit rafters bright as polished knives. They swim the muddled air and keen like supersonic babies, the sound we imagine empty wombs might make in women who can’t fill them up. A clasp, a scratch, a sigh. They drink fruit dry. And wheel, against feverish light flung hard upon their faces, in circles that nauseate. Imagine one at breast or neck, Patterning a name in driblets of iodine that spatter your skin stars. They flutter, shake like mystics. They materialize. Revelatory as a stranger’s underthings found tossed upon the marital bed, you tremble even at the thought. Asleep, you tear your fingers and search the sheets all night.
Philip Larkin's Koan
In the perfect universe of math it’s said
the world’s eternal aberration.
In fact, we should be less than dead,
math itself disrupted for matter ever to be read
as real. A thought so hard to fathom that The Nation
in its article on math has said
we lack the right imagination: the human head
will not subtract itself from the equation,
zero out the eager ego to be less than dead.
Did the numbers hunger for mistake, for fun upend
themselves to recalculate our infinite extinction?
And was existence meant for all, since it could be said
without our numbers others might have thrived:
the black rhinoceros, shortnose sturgeon—?
Articles of horn and scale both less and more than dead,
figurative dreams that now haunt us in our beds.
Memory’s another flaw in our equation. Was it The Nation?
I forget. Regardless, I know that someone said
in a perfect universe, we’d all be dead.