What sort of morning was Euclid having

when he first considered parallel lines?

Or that business about how things equal

to the same thing are equal to each other?

Who’s to know what the day has in it?

This morning Burt took it into his mind

to make a longbow out of Osage orange

and went on eBay to find the cow horns

from which to fashion the tips of the thing.

You better have something to pass the time

he says, stirring his coffee, smiling.

And Murray is carving a model truck

from a block of walnut he found downstairs.

Whittling away he thinks of the years

he drove between Detroit and Buffalo

delivering parts for General Motors.

Might he have nursed theorems on lines and dots

or the properties of triangles or

the congruence of adjacent angles?

Or clearing customs at Niagara Falls,

arrived at some insight on wholes and parts

or an axiom involving radii

and the making of circles, how distance

from a center point can be both increased

endlessly and endlessly split-a mystery

whereby the local and the global share

the same vexations and geometry?

Possibly this is where God comes into it,

who breathed the common notion of coincidence

into the brain of that Alexandrian

over breakfast twenty-three centuries back,

who glimpsed for a moment that morning the sense

it all made: life, killing time, the elements,

the dots and lines and angles of connection-

an egg’s shell opened with a spoon, the sun’s

connivance with the moon’s decline, Sophia

the maidservant pouring juice; everything,

everything coincides, the arc of memory,

her fine parabolas, the bend of a bow,

the curve of the earth, the turn in the road.

Thomas Lynch’s most recent books are The Sin-Eater—A Breviary and The Good Funeral, co-authored with Thomas G. Long. He has taught in the Department of Mortuary Science at Wayne State University, the Graduate Writing Program at the University of Michigan, and at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

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Published in the 2009-07-17 issue: View Contents
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