the higher arithmetic.

Kathleen Norris read this poem last summer at the Glen – David Dwyer was her husband and she wrote about his death in Acedia and Me.

I think fans of Madeleine L’Engle will particularly like this poem.

“The Higher Arithmetic” by David Dwyer

In heaven, I do not know that there are angels,
but I know there are numbers there, and light.

(Arithmetic and heaven are both uncountably
full of light). Inaccessible cardinals, there,
will lord it over mere infinities;
the naturals will dance among the reals . . .
Apart from numbers, how little we know.

There is no largest prime. The Halting Problem
is formally undecidable. Every subset
of a well-ordered set is well-ordered itself. And so on . . .

Such things are true, even easy to prove.
Are there uncountably more, unknowably other
true things about the world?

I had to go away. A woman I love
(and this is true, too,) put an icon
of an archangel into the glove-compartment
of my car. I haven’t looked, but I know it is there,
as I know there is no largest prime.


she said. His numberless wings cloak all of us
poor travelers who do not know, but are not lost.
The angel, she said, of happy meeting, after all.

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