Higher Math

Laura Foley

Our 2017 Short Forms Contest Honourable Mention.

Higher Math

I.

I didn’t think it could happen again,
after the burst tubes, emergency surgery,
parents rushing north on a chartered plane.
A year after, Janka visits, playing grandma,
turning our kitchen fragrant,
rolling out pirogues—sauerkraut, onion—
Billy helping, pressing dough with little boy fists,
Aaron painting egg whites on rolls, and later,
my husband and I keep quiet in our making,
in our room with the heated floor,
the night that our daughter begins.

 

II.

As we approach on Route 12, a road sign
welcomes us to the town we keep driving through,
house after house without stopping,
which mystifies her, pavement wet with rain,
yellow line shining: it’s night, we’ve driven hours
from her flight to Logan, and now we’re home,
my daughter back from her special school, amazed
at the tall pines, the shadows between them,
her town made real again.

 

III.

Directing Violet into the stall,
she slides the bucket underneath,
pulls the teats with a steady beat,
pressing her head firmly
against the cow’s belly.
Unlocking the leather yoke,
she releases her to the field,
carts water for nine piglets,
and the huge grunting mother. My child,
impatient with numbers, unable to read,
goes dancing every evening,
at peace with her own geometry
of knowing, tapping intersecting circles
on the chalkboard of the dance floor.

“Higher Math” won the Honourable Mention in Room‘s 2017 Short Forms Contest.

Laura Foley’s the author of six poetry collections, including WTF and Night Ringing. Her poem “Gratitude List” won the Common Good Books contest, judged by Garrison Keillor; “Nine Ways of Looking at Light” won the Outermost Contest, judged by Marge Piercy. She lives with her partner and three big dogs among the hills of Vermont. Please see: laurafoley.net.

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