Math and the Mermaid (poem)

the mermaid

The Mermaid by Howard Pyle

Yesterday, I found myself using a tape measure (not a common practice of mine). The following poem began as freewriting after doing that and, after a few iterations, has emerged as one of my new favorites:

Math and the Mermaid

“Can you measure my hips?”
the mermaid asks me in the
dream where I tread water
and try to solve math problems,
not the usual fare but stuff
that vexed Albert Einstein.

I fumble with the tape measure,
my movements slowed by water,
as she smiles and drifts closer to me.
“You’re always so nervous,” she says,
and places her green hand on mine.
“Just slow down and take your time.”

“I don’t understand the equation,” I reply
and look down at the tape measure
which has became a black sea snake.
The mermaid laughs, a soft sound
that fills the ocean and summons whales.
“You never do,” she says and kisses me.

 

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