093.1: Bruce Covey:: The Difference Between Segments and Vectors & It Might Take a Long Time to Partition Googolplex 093

To partition a giant number (say, a googolplex), mathematicians represent the number in terms of smaller values that can be combined to arrive at the greater number. They do this because the number’s immensity is otherwise impossible to apprehend. This method seems a fine way to articulate something as difficult as love or beauty, and it’s a method poets have employed before. Where Elizabeth Barrett Browning famously decides to “count the ways” of love, Bruce Covey positions the shape and movement of the emotion on a grid. This poet is quick to point out the distinctions between a line segment and vector (the direction and magnitude that the segment represents). There’s certainly a felt magnitude in these poems, though the poet partitions it for us so that we might recognize its parts in our everyday lives: A cherry tree. Bubbles in a bottle of ginger ale. The exhaust that trails an airplane full of fellow travelers. S. Whitney Holmes

The Difference Between Segments and Vectors

All roads diverge from Medusa’s head.
Her snakes define direction as static first,
then stone and maps so that others might follow.

Driving to pick up our fried rice
& egg rolls at the Thai restaurant,
I scream, “It’s so beautiful”
about the effervescent cherry,
its white fireworks glossed
with a fine, grey obsidian sheen
in the dusky coolness of late spring.

“Stop telling me that,”
Replies my daughter Jing, even though
this time had been the first.

Between peony clouds,
thick and soft and white,
two planes inscribe
white trails superimposed
into an X, but skewed,
each plane full of a future destination.
Only to shatter & dissipate into
the luster of specifics
upon arrival

It Might Take a Long Time to Partition Googolplex

Some terrible intersection might make all the gold parts happy

& it’s good that nickel is around too & aluminum

I wrote some lines about metal but lost them

Roughly equivalent to losing a half dollar

Or a dollar coin there have been so many different versions

So for now let’s say the water beneath us is still—

Apart from a couple of bubbles or ice cubes

& stacking tiles on the middle table substitutes for sentences

The way games were used to decide between two abstract variables

Dragons controlling dice from the vertices of the 2-dimensional universe

& strings were that way too like ideas & holding your hand

Was so much currency we made a ceiling fan spin

The way you look at a particle changes its nature or position

Just as changing clothes will affect the certainty of luck

So, I mean this: Take a glass bottle of ginger ale

& shake it to multiply its air sacs. Spread it

Across a flat surface & divide, with a razor blade, the right
Bubbles from left, then the remaining odds from evens.

If you’re left with more than half as many as my love for you

You might as well pack up your bags & leave
Because I wouldn’t be telling you the truth
About the infinite & its intersections