Monday, April 9, 2012

Poetry: Soothing Toxic Stress for Math Phobics

Mmmm, fractions taste good.
After collaborating in three middle school math classes this year, I personally, have a new fondness for fractions (which are helpful in a million ways!) But here is another different and lovely way to view math:
by Mary Cornish
I like the generosity of numbers.
The way, for example,
they are willing to count
anything or anyone:
two pickles, one door to the room,
eight dancers dressed as swans.
I like the domesticity of addition—
add two cups of milk and stir—
the sense of plenty: six plums
on the ground, three more
falling from the tree.
And multiplication's school
of fish times fish,
whose silver bodies breed
beneath the shadow
of a boat.
Even subtraction is never loss,
just addition somewhere else:
five sparrows take away two,
the two in someone else's
garden now.
There's an amplitude to long division,
as it opens Chinese take-out
box by paper box,
inside every folded cookie
a new fortune.
And I never fail to be surprised
by the gift of an odd remainder,
footloose at the end:
forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,
with three remaining.
Three boys beyond their mothers' call,
two Italians off to the sea,
one sock that isn't anywhere you look.

from Poetry magazine
Volume CLXXVI, Number 3, June 2000

I also love zero--so versatile. Not willing to be a big nothing, it will also generously hold any place safe to google and beyond. Let's not even get started on the fantasy of the number line and integers--
 what imagination!

And here is even a zero lesson for little people!

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