The numbers

I take a half hour on the elliptical machine because

because numbers don’t lie.

It tells me how many steps I have taken, how many calories I have burned… in bright red..

And that drop of blood I take in the morning says that I ate too many cookies yesterday

And the scale tells me that grief is bad for the waist line…

And the time ticking by telling me that I need to leave right now.

I think about the metrics… the data

That will tell me that I am okay…
If only the scale read this–

Or the blood test would say that…

Or the idiot light on the dash board would turn off

And how many other numbers talk to us

In our ordinary world?

Like the little nisei girl in my mind

Sitting on that black and white curb

Her number on her coat…

There is something cosmic in her gaze

Working out the mathematics of a political geography that has just rejected her

At a specific date and time and place

That accident of history that pinned the number to your wool overcoat

And I know what that could look like

When the swing of the arm of history, and the creator of the universe

Sends you that message… and pins the number to you

That somewhere you have lost one of your numbers…

That his vital signs have all gone to zero…

This a year ago… his number was called, and he was taken by that great cosmic hand

And ushered forever into eternity.

And you work out the mathematics in your head
And in your heart, it fills with that data

And empties like a glass of tea

And the snow outside melting

As if to inform us of the numbers

That this is the real world… measured and taken

It is material… with mass and dimension and of time

And so I measure and count the steps in bright red

And measure my blood and the pressure

And weigh it, take in the time

Breathe in the mass of air, and exhale

My number is already pinned to me

And I wait for that bus to take me…

And the weight of the numbers

Will inform me

And tell me when things are okay.

 

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