In Mild Praise of Fractions

By 
Carol Lipszyc

Spools of odd and even numbers knot
tightly around my fingers.
Fractions like hieroglyphs
people the tethered pages
of my grade school days.

At the hub of our long-winded kitchen,
turquoise table on a checkerboard
floor. Mother slices red apples on a pine wood
board: “How many quarters,”
she quizzes, “make up one apple?”

I stare blankly till the apple browns,
its juice runs dry.

“Four,” baby sister chimes,
moon on her left,
sun on her right.
“Each slice is one-quarter.”

What did I know or care of fractions?
I befriended a half-sister and brother
from a family divided;
lost one mitten out of two in a deep drift of snow;
had two canine teeth out of four
pulled to fit my small, pert mouth.

I’d grown suspicious of fractions—
their power to contract.

But Mother and Sister Linda
saw with the Eyes of Horus,
the Greek God of Mathematics
who blessed all parts of the whole,

their irises, blue rings of light, radiating
equivalence.

Carol Lipszyc earned a Doctorate of Education at OISE, University of Toronto. Her book of poems, Singing Me Home, was published by Inanna Press in 2010. Poems, prose, and educational articles have been published in New Zealand, Rotterdam and England. Carol teaches English teacher education and creative writing at SUNY Plattsburgh.

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