“the faithful scholar dreams of being exact,” by V.V. Ganeshananthan

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Poetry by V.V. Ganeshananthan from our Fall 2017 issue.


the faithful scholar dreams of being exact,
invites unsorrowing reason in, builds
a church of math: illuminates this volume of
violence with formulae, brackets the absence
with love for the civilian dead approaching infinite—
he divines the loss, the imaginary number,
exacts the hour: the distance traveled over time,
the task, the force plus mass, this hour weighted
enough for him to step tender again into the garden
still watered with falls. into each blank, a variable—
son minus father; corrected for orphans, widows
over children, vanished over zero. a line beyond
which unrelenting fact reveals that of every eight slain,
two crossed the bar entwined. the calculus celestial:
the impossible sum in which one must already
believe to pursue proof, though in all this
reddened heaven and earth, desire reduces
to reversal: the apple lifted from the air,
shot above no one’s head, uneaten, unbruised,
returned to the heart of the tree still blazing green—


Image: Calandri, Filippo. “De Arithmetica.” 1491. Printed book with woodcut illustrations. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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