What brings us
in the basement hall?
I suppose it’s shared misery:
The panic of calculus, as we watch future lives
after another paper returns marked - no,
drenched, in red ballpoint pen.
There we sit
every morning, stony and sleepy,
along this narrow basement hall, like cinder blocks.
And every morning, he smiles, steps around the rubble.
He opens his door to our chaos;
tells us about irrational holidays devoted to mathematical constants,
distracting us from
we are bearing.
The morning pattern, our congregation, gives us strength.
Yet, despite this foundation
we still wonder what will become
Look, we can’t see that far,
and we’re all tired,
shaky, and uncertain -
about the problems,
about the day, and the time, and, and,
whether it all
“Stop.” He reminds us: “You can’t tell
yet - you’re drowning in limits and constants - but trust,
you’re only just getting started.”
Tuesday was Pi (π) Day (March 14, or 3/14) - a holiday celebrated by mathematicians and pastry aficionados alike. I’m in the latter category, and I channeled the week’s latent anxiety into excess dough and fillings, both sweet and savoury:
You really can’t go wrong with classic apple and blueberry, but it’s worth trying the others, too. The dark chocolate bourbon pecan pie is easy to make, and beyond description. The two savoury pies are also simple to construct - speaking as a first-time baker of both. The quiche lorraine is a brunch table classic, and the tourtière is a French-Canadian stalwart.
Maybe you’re surprised that I didn’t “geek” out on a pi-inspired post, diving deep into its constant appearance in equations and natural world properties. On that front, I’d rather point you to far more ably resourced work.
And then I’d ask you to reconsider.
After all, only a geek would write a poem inspired by π and its first thirty-nine places.
A post-script: I also took a stab at writing a tiny story for Nishant Jain’s excellent newsletter, The SneakyArt Post. Here’s the story, but please check out his beautiful, minimalist image that inspired it (and, perhaps, try your hand at one yourself).
Knitted hat pulled tightly over still-damp hair, she pushes her hands deeper into the pockets of her quilted bomber jacket.
Outside, the landscape is an underpainting: roughed-in rectangles of brick and mortar, grey stripes of the avenue beyond the subway line. The intention is there, but the details are still lacking - at least, for a few more weeks.
She lets out the breath she was holding beneath the thin surgical mask.
Saying goodbye was never easy, even when she knew it was coming.
I don’t know what I’m more impressed by, the pies or the poem ...
"...drenched, in red ballpoint pen." Gosh, this takes me back, albeit not in a maths-learning context.
Such a great post, Bryn! And those PIES!!!
I loved reading your tiny story on Nishant's stack - I love that you've posted it here, too. 😊