Math

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.

You Can't Cry on Zoom

The day before the start of distance learning
the middle school principal told parents in a Zoom video conference
our faces at the top of the screen like squares in a quilt border

You are not expected to be your child’s teacher.
The most important thing is grace.
We need to give ourselves grace,
our children grace,
and the world grace.

And I wanted to cry
for her kindness, her forgiveness, her grace
but my camera was on