The Math

March 6, 2009

Louder Than a Bomb

Sarah Winters

Poet: Sarah Winters, 18

Sarah is a senior at Northside College Prep High School. This is her first year participating in Louder Than a Bomb.


The Math
The day I realized I was sick of dreaming
was the day I decided to go to sleep.
Sometimes our worst gets the best of us.
Everyday I'm learning something new about myself
and I wonder what I'll run out of first:
things to learn or days to learn them all in.
Recently I stay up too many late nights
rubbing my forehead against a textbook
and sometimes I catch my mother
crying when she thinks no one's listening
and I never know the reason.

The first time I learned
about Biology I was 13.
Learned how to fold my tongue
like origami in the mouths of boys
who were gentle as paper c.ranes.
By 14 the magic was gone but then I met a boy who told me
he had taped a picture of himself
to the bottom of his shoe
so that he could always stay down to earth.
He reminded me of surprises like
how the rivers run deep with fish
and family reunions,
and how truth lives in the desert where only
the sun can see its freckles

life is not math.
the karma of 6 billion
does not equalize into a perfect halo of 0
I don't know whether we are tipping
the side that is positive or negative
but I know it is not that simple
there are no angels with clipboards
who keep the world's balance even
when our actions have weighted against us
I don't know if the birth of someone's daughter
can negate the death of a soldier
because the tears of his mother
cannot be translated into a number
There are statistics on youth violence
that have no way to factor in
all the great things they never got to do
I want to believe that for every fist
raised by an abusive father
one is raised at an anti-war rally
but what does it do the numbers
if a man is capable of doing both?

if this world was fair,
the eyes of children catching fireflies
do not burn out as they grow up

but it's not.
so embrace this life with a dented ribcage
and call its name in your sleep
daydream about the sun's waltz above the rooftop
accept the face that the only thing
that elevates you from the earth is love
but you would do the worst things in Its name
Woman, you can admire the moon
and her beauty
but do not ever let men walk all over you
like she does
even if they are astronauts
Man, ride the city bus every day
and know that when the flood comes,
it will be loaded up with two of every animal,
and on that day, God will forgive you
for not believing in Him
life
is not math.
you can line a casket
with the prettiest velvet and lace
but, really, if you could change
anything about its insides,
it's that they wouldn't have died so young

Mother, I know that your feet are raw
from rubbing the road
I know you sleepwalk
like you swallowed hummingbirds
I know your eyes strain
to make out tomorrow
on life's horizon
but Mother,
the golden-haired heads of your daughters
are filled with poetry and symphonies
and even when they've forgotten
the way your silhouette looks in the dark
they will still remember where they came from.

so don't worry.
sometimes we put two and two together
and come up with something that isn't four
but it adds up. somehow.
or we make up the math
as we go along.

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