

TWO POEMS Rebecca Elliott

EXPERIMENT #18: A MATHEMATICS OF THE BODY If we accept as a given that the number of bones in the body remains constant throughout an individual's life, then it follows that number can be calculated mathematically. Several factors must be noted: mass, volume, the concentration of hair follicles in the back of the hand, the color of the eyes at noon and again at midnight. Steam rising from all the vents and a bicycle passing through it. The distance between the left foot and home. A mathematical formula can be found, but it will be unique for each individual. 1. As you approach the house you grew up in, the space between your bones will expand, producing a crackling sound. 2. Your mind will begin to drift (even your ears are filled with tiny bones), but it is important to remain focused. 3. Count the interval between cracks. Multiply this number by the number of rooms in the house which by now will have engulfed you. 4. Multiply this again by your struggle to breathe, divided by any Greek letter of your choosing. 5. The number may be larger than you expect. There are more bones in your hand than there are mice in the walls.
__ EXPERIMENT #23: FRACTALS The world we live in is composed of an infinite number of tiny, identical worlds. When we look through a microscope, we see a copy of the room we are sitting in, the table, our hunched form peering into another microscope. If we were capable of gaining a distant enough perspective, we would see that our room is only one of millions of rooms, each exactly the same, fitting together to form an enormous version of themselves. 1. Take a microscope to your hand and you will see a crowd of small hands. A fern is made of smaller ferns. The parts of a man are other men, each with his mouth open. 2. Peer into these mouths—do they contain other mouths? 3. If all the mouths speak at once, they are saying the same thing. 4. It is a wind. It is a train in the moment it passes your house and then disappears. 5. It is the disappearance of the train, which contains the disappearance of every train.
__ Gustav Fechner worked toward a mathematical description of beauty and hurt his eyes trying to understand the afterimages that come from staring at the sun. G.W. Septimus Piesse invented a comprehensive scale of correspondences between musical notes and scents and created his perfumes based on harmonics. 