One thinks of Julio and Jeanne next door...
(The Truth Is in the Poetry)
Is it so foolish to deny that 2
plus 2 must always equal 4? Because
one thinks immediately of Julio
and Jeanne next door, with twins, Celine and
quiet Jim — not counting Thor, the sheltie,
they are four indeed — but one in the
directory, one phone, one family,
one house, one home.
How many syllables comprise a poem?
How many deities are in the Trinity?
How many personalities have you, or I
(not in the psychopathic sense, of course,
although one wouldn’t know, would one, if there
were moments unaccounted for — so many
billion galaxies to travel in for
one a bit unraveled)?
...so many billion galaxies to travel in....
And then there is the Christian marriage
ceremony, wherein 1 plus 1 make 1,
and during which the wedding guests affirm
that all are one in Christ.
One day, one night, together, they become —
a day. Once more, the sum of 1 plus 1
is 1, at least within the limits of
the English language — its vocabulary
vast, indeed, although, alas, not infinite.
And think of all those violins, violas,
cellos, basses, trumpets, clarinets,
trombones, and horns and cymbals, harps
and bells and such — and all the men and
women, dignified in black and white,
with all their individual concerns —
one widowed just a year ago tonight,
another six years clean and sober; to
her left, an oboist whose brother was
indicted yesterday for tax evasion; on
her right, a Pakistani having such
a frightful allergy attack — and the
conductor, who has just received a check
for twenty thousand dollars from the lottery—
but now she raises her baton — and
in that instant of anticipation, in
that sacred, silent metamorphosis, how
many, would you say, have they become?
Ludwig van Beethoven, an 1804 portrait
Four notes — three quick, one slow — are played:
the Fifth (but first, perhaps, in pure
and simple glory) symphony of Beethoven
begins… and in the audience,
a few may fidget, measuring
the minutes and intending to
retreat at intermission. Violinists
count the silent beats of idleness
between their passages, but, I imagine,
seldom ask themselves how many
notes they play in all, and just
as well, it wouldn’t change a thing. Do you
suppose there’s someone who, for fun
or scholarship, attempts to number all
the microbes in the hall, and further,
calculates the ratio of respirations that
occur between the second movement and
the third? For to be sure, it could
be quantified somewhere by some technology
or other. Fortunately, no one cares.
And that’s the point. They came, you see, to hear
...the stars care nothing of our counting them....
Therefore, you’ll get no argument from me that 2 plus 2 are 4, not 3 or 17
or 20, but in turn you must forgive
the solecism I commit, suggesting there’s
a truer truth than anything that can
be proven by addition — if it were
not so, than why would anybody bother?
What would be the joy of noticing
this pattern or that symmetry? Do we
pursue a proof because the numerals
insist on our attention? I am sure
the stars care nothing of our counting
them or our refraining from it. Finding
order in the universe, or else
imposing it, or otherwise competing
in a race with chaos, really has a single
benefit — it satisfies, however
temporarily, the spirit, and
the truth, you find, is in the poetry,
not in the paper that it’s written on
or in the composition of the particles
that dart about at rates astonishingly
great — as we believe, for so the eye
of science witnesses, and since we give
it credibility, we cannot disagree.
...viruses and other microscopic entities....
It pleases us to cede authority
to science, even though we never see
the viruses and other microscopic
entities; but science offers remedies
for every manner of disease and warns
that to release a sneeze uncovered will
unleash a tyranny of demons; so
it seems, in our experience, and is
esteemed as fact, no longer theory…
because it matters. That’s the only
reason — saves a life, perhaps, or
fifty million. If the latter, is the
scientific effort fifty million times
more worthy? I don’t know.
You do the math.
by Sister Alma Rose
“Galaxies” and “stars” images © Luc Viatour GFDL/CC
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