in praise of zig zags (a poem for the math teachers).

“In Praise of Zigzags” by Jane O. Wayne

For a Girl Failing Geometry

Maybe she does her homework
the way she does her chores.
She moves quickly when she vacuums,
forgetting corners in the living room,
repeating others,
zigzags recklessly across the carpet,
raising those pale tracks
behind her in the wool, crossing
and recrossing them. And not once
does geometry cross her mind.
Outside she wanders aimlessly
behind the lawnmower,
rolls toward the middle of the lawn
then doubles back.
For a while, she’ll follow straight lines–
the fence, the hedge, the walk–
then go off on a tangent, spiraling
around the birch or the maple.
When she finishes,
she leaves the lawnmower out, leaves
a trail of unmown strips and crisscrosses,
her scribbling on the lawn
like a line of thought that’s hard to follow.
As far as she’s concerned
the shortest distance between two points
is confining.

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