Atlantis and Egypt (cont.)
Two Poem Cycles by Linda Pearce
The Egypt Poems (cont.)
By Linda Pearce
They pick up the wooden crate full of numbers
and carry it down to the mathematician
who sits in the cellar
rearranging his own brain into pleasing patterns.
He’s always ordering new numbers
whenever his supply runs out,
although they cost him dear.
He wears an old coat that’s patched together
from the pieces of his theorems,
and he wears the proof around him like a scarf.
He’s cranky, being always up against infinity -
it seems to him unfair that God
should always have access to more numbers than he,
and he’s divided himself so many ways
he’s had to invent a whole new system of enumeration
just to keep track of his own fragments;
he writes them with a stick on clay,
and bakes himself in the sun.
A pile of unused vectors slides off the edge
of his clay tablet, and falls on the floor,
coincidentally forming a pyramid
travelling at the speed of light.
He contemplates this,
and falls into a state of rapture.
At times he’s called to work.
Measuring his forearm with a string
he walks himself around the site
mumbling to himself in fractions.
He peers nearsightedly at the huge blocks they sent
in their own determination to outdo God.
He opens his mind to a state of calculus,
using integrals to calculate the area under the sky,
subtracting the space occupied by all the air
and remembering to allow for the angle of the shadow
cast by the evergrowing temple.
He returns to his cool room
hot on the heels of a new obsession.
There are so many numbers in the background -
thousands, millions, trillions,
positive, negative, real and unreal!
And then there is the additive nature of numbers,
the way they seem to keep relentlessly accumulating,
piling up in corners, and then there are the sly imaginative numbers
that creep into his equations, wreaking havoc with reality.
He develops a theory that all these numbers may not be necessary,
that there are some which could be eliminated;
in this mad quest he begins to examine each one
looking for its qualities, examining its worth,
testing it between his teeth
dividing the numbers into piles - yes, no -
reinventing the binary system unawares.
He finds that his predisposition for threes
is skewing the purity of his project;
he cannot trust his own data.
Numbers swirl around his dreams like kites,
swaying the high currents of his mind.
So, the camel.
When you’re on the camel for very long
you taste the online realtime experiential flavor of reality;
the camel demands a high tolerance for feedback,
usually in the form of waves of pain.
Your pain, of course, has no effect on him.
Nor do you affect the anarchy of his aspirations.
Suppose that Egypt had been overtaken
by a greening of the energy field
which flowed across the sands;
through some kind of quick time application
all the land turns emerald.
The camel pauses to eat flowers and grass.
Nobody can get him moving.
His hump grows enormously.
He lays down in a field of poppies and burps.
His riders feel no urgency to reach the next oasis,
because it’s all oasis.
The camel has a sleep,
flowers bubbling from his gently snoring lips.
The rider unpacks the camel;
he needs a new form of transportation;
he starts to imagine the horse.
The camel awakes with a start
from a dream where he was being replaced
by a camel with no hump, where he was
being made redundant by the greening of the fields.
What would he do without the hot and freezing
blasting sculpted sands
that nothing else could cross?
He is a creature perfectly engineered
(implying what?) for his environment,
like the fish. He swims through the sands
like the shark.
And what of his rider? Since he cannot morph
(through some engineering oversight)
the rider is dependant upon the engineering
that created creatures well-designed
for the needs of man in a dry deserted land.
Why not just design the human
with the ability to morph, to create his own hump
and trudge across the desert by himself?
The camel makes a loud sound of disgust.
The desert flows back over the green fields.