Helping my son figure out 
equations and linear functions,
I remember how in math
I was always about to get lost.

Limits and derivatives, 
sine and cosine,
coefficients and constants.

All it took was a blink,
a glance away 
from the blackboard,
and I was in a forest:
trees with no tops, rare noises, 
and a mounting darkness.

Even if I learned a new concept,
it was like arriving in a foreign country 
in the middle of the night
and only knowing how to say,
“Hello” or “Where’s the bathroom?” 

Teachers kept pushing me deeper and deeper —
Algebra, Calculus, Trigonometry.
It felt like riding a train up a jagged mountain,
but why?

I would like to live in a world of words.
I would like to swim through them like summer water,
do backflips, underwater high-fives, twirling torpedoes.

With words, I could build imaginary trees into the sky, 
wooden rollercoasters, and labyrinths of roses.

Daria Ustiugova/Shutterstock

I would like to follow a winding road of language
to places where I don’t mind getting lost,
where I can be free
and disappear.