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by Mel Weisburd
Sitting beside my daughter
in her quantum mechanics class,
the professor threw equations
on four different blackboards
as fast as he could speak:
case where if and only if K equals not equals 0...
where K is very large...where K goes to infinity...
(K + 1)! factorial'
leaving me behind, breathless.
Later we strolled atop the cliffs overlooking
the ocean. We could hear the boulders rock
in the undertow for miles below. The sea looked
as if it were crawling uphill to wallow in the dusk.
Three gulls shot out from behind a cliff
and seemed to skin the light from the the water,
alarming something that was leaving us.
Stefi and I broke into each other's eyes
as if what we had been to each other
flared and then extinguished
all in a moment. Then she jogged on ahead
for her exercise while I dropped back
to philosophize about the scene
and to smoke my pipe.
A three-dimensional gauge popped into view
to mark the exact point of our separation.
A huge yellow ruler set on a north-south
line with the Institute of Oceanography
with scales and numbers large enough
for my nearsighted eyes.
In her world, everything is measured
with that gauge! The levels of the cliffs,
the curvature of the blue-green sea
the division between depth and height,
prehistory and history, science and art
her forward motion and my fallback.
From those heights the world is no larger
than a house. I must lower my head
to pass through it, and reentering
from the intense sunlight and darkness
of outer space, the eyes must adjust
to the light that had been subdued
by the lower atmosphere. I see
a lone student below in the bottom-most
percentile of the cliff walking the baseline
of the beach and my daughter – out of sight now,
beyond the last bend..