Monday, August 8, 2011

Re-learning fractions

I am participating in August Break, a month-long break from words and experiment in expressing life through photography. Join in.


There was a time when I owned flashcards that read "A calf is a baby cow." You see, for a Greek, 'anthropomorphism' was not a hard word on the SAT. But ask that same little Greek what you call an animal's young or a group of doves or a female horse or the name of a tool that we use for a particular action and she'll draw a blank. 

The flashcards are back, this time for the GRE standardized test and in light of a hopeful return to the academic community in a new capacity. Alacrity, perfidy, prattle, fulminate. Rules of exponents. Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally and the order of mathematical operations. Bear with me as I re-learn how to count.

Flash cards
by Rita Dove

In math I was the whiz kid, keeper

of oranges and apples. What you don’t understand,
master, my father said; the faster
I answered, the faster they came.
I could see one bud on the teacher’s geranium,
one clear bee sputtering at the wet pane.
The tulip tree always dragged after heavy rain
so I tucked my head as my boots slapped home.
My father put up his feet after work
and relaxed with a highball and The Life of Lincoln.
After supper we drilled and I climbed the dark
before sleep, before a thin voice hissed
numbers as I spun on a wheel. I had to guess.
Ten, I kept saying, I’m only ten.

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