Friday, July 9, 2010

One hundred forty-four

These days most often
My right front pocket bulges
With a yellow tape named Stanley
One hundred-forty-four steel inches
Of retractable exactitude
Groaning in muted protest
As I strain the mainspring
Over and again
Taking careful measure of my life
Of our life

One hundred forty-four
A holy number to be sure
A witness to perfection
And to mystery.
But my life does not add up
To such exalted sums
Does anyone’s?
I am forever tripping over random extras
Fractions, decimals
Joyful and inconvenient
Too much, or too little.

In this home, for instance
The closet doors
Now sprung open
Will not close
The aperture is far too large
And it looks…
Odd, or even funny.

I sigh,
And yet I love this
Cockeyed geometry
With all its gaps and angles
The numbers which defy convention
The swollen joints
The openings pushed wide
Our misbehaving picket fence
For in these imperfections
One hundred forty-four or more
There is the solace of integrity
And the measure of our shared humanity.

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