Today's poem is by Michele Battiste

Splitting the Distance, an advanced application of Goldbach's Conjecture:

                                        every number greater
than 3 can be expressed as the average of two primes or
as this: You don't know how to dress
            for a New York winter; in Wichita,
            my parka grows musty from neglect.
or this: The graphite in your freshly purchased
            mechanical pencil is a compromise, stiff
            enough to ache a little, soft enough
            not to break.

These plains are yours, this postulate, this pad of graph paper you
left behind. My voice echoes through the phone, offering 88.
Manhattan leans heavy, the air thick with signals in
your reply: 3 and 173 — a easy, impatient proficiency,
but without me you got your head caught in the subway doors.
The crowded car stared at the amazing lack of symmetry.

Wichita is dry tonight, shriveling. The west-bound
wind could snatch the napkin from your lap
as you sit in Washington Square eating dosas, but it lost
your greasy thumbprint in Brazil, Indiana. That city is like every
city — filled with mathematicians without solutions. This city
has a ghost town woman lost in contemplation of

the Given: a finite set of integers that never fail
                the gap from there to here.
I wanted 79 and 97, split like twins and pressed together. I want
to hollow out the number line and throw digits in the river.

Copyright © 2009 Michele Battiste All rights reserved
from Slow the Appetite Down
Spire Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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