Thursday Poem

The Calculus

There's a culture which counts like this: “one,
two, many.” It is sufficient. They don't use numbers
to measure. There are so many women your wife
gets pushed out of bed. Everyone knows without a
name for it how many dead men a camel can carry.
There is so little light the dark part of each eye
grows knuckle-size.
The invention of zero will end their life. They don't
say “no moon tonight”; they say “the moon is
gone.” We can add this egg of absence to anything
—then we are richer.

by William Matthews
from Sleek for the Long Flight
White Pine Press, 1988