Poetry  May 2013 | issue 449

The God Of Numbers and Eve, After

by Danusha Laméris

Danusha Laméris’s husband has been reading Federico García Lorca’s poems to her in the original Spanish. She lives in Santa Cruz, California, and wants always to be near redwood trees.


The God Of Numbers


My mother once had a job measuring penises —
penises that belonged to men whose chromosomes
were askew. “The trouble,” she said,
“is that when I went to measure them, they’d grow!”
I picture her pulling a wooden ruler
from a pocket of her white lab coat.
How hard we try to break the world down,
make sense of it. How steadily it resists.
My friend David, an astrophysicist,
had a job counting the clouds of dust around stars,
an assignment that, in my mind,
put him in an echelon of angels
just above the ones who number grains of sand.
There’s something comforting about inventory,
futile as it may be, the act of assessment
itself a form of care. I like to imagine a God
who rises before dawn, takes out the stone tablets,
and starts to tally the individual hairs on each head,
the number of breaths we’ve taken in the night,
who counts the cilia shooting our cells
through the dark galaxies of our bodies
just before he gets back to work
turning out the next tornado
or reaching down to give the tectonic plates
another good, hard shake.

Personal. Political. Provocative. Ad-free. Subscribe today.