Today's poem is by Sam Reed

from The Book of Zeros

Zero came to the first heart and saw that she was missing
So she went inside it
The heart felt this and said what are you
But there was nothing that she was
Nothing that she wasn't

So she said I am what comes next
And she made the future and went to wait for the heart there
All she left was a glinting
At the edges of objects and air
Something taut and intending the heart could feel in it
A wind that gathered and would not blow

Before they knew division the numbers entered each other freely
Eleven went into two as many times as they wanted
Each accepting the other like a thin sheaf of water on stone
Does light

But Sumerians craved the numbers and so calculated bodies for them
The skeletons were trapped in a reed
Who was made to speak to a tablet of mud
The bones tumbled out
One by one
Sunlight with its great knuckles was called on to set them
And their muscles were the tongues of Sumer

As if ceasing some dream or commencing it the numbers
Discovered they were not light or liquid but flesh
Six saw then and called to him come
I remember you
But the tongues and the mud said divide
So she passed through him once before his body became locked
And ten to be enfolded in six
Had to break himself

The numbers were sundered and chafed in their numerals
Except zero
Who was then floating to the east in the snows
The reed that knew how to name her
Was the only one no one could find

Zero saw how the numbers in their solitude
Were like seas with holes in the bottom
So she made herself into a river
To divide the world and carry the answer to the seas
And when they felt her they recalled how it was
To never end

Copyright © 2006 Sam Reed All rights reserved
from Beloit Poetry Journal
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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