The Hungarian mathematician
Paul Erdös wasted no time,
dispensed with niceties. Each
letter or note began this way.

"I am in Australia.
Tomorrow I leave

for Hungary. Let K
be the largest integer..."

A mathematical nomad, he'd
awaken his revolving hosts—
mischievous child, declaring his
mind open, problems to solve.

Expecting his bread to be
buttered for him while he
devoted the entirety of his
consciousness to mathematics.

What if I—mother, partner,
workhorse, household
glue and scaffolding—
were to simply write:

"We're out of butter. Don't
forget your homework. Let K
be the absolute minimum of
peace and quiet needed to..."

(Even the cats creeping round
every time I grab the tin opener
make it impossible for lunch
to be a time for the quiet idea.)

Let the unwashed dishes stand
for the uncharted landscape I've
made my destination now. Let
the unpaid bills drift crisply

into an impassable stasis. Let
unanswered texts and calls
become the discordant music of
a fast retreating universe, the

constant accretion of trivial
tasks the snowy static on the dial.
The notebooks piled at my feet
a signal -- my mind open to

something I need to explore
without interruption. Let this
be something I never have to explain,
along with this unbuttered bread.


Dagne Forrest lives and works in Almonte, just west of Ottawa, Canada. As a poet, she embraces the endless possibilities to be mined within established forms. Spacetime, nature, and the smallest details in life provide her with jumping off points and inspiration.