Do The Math

From its core to its curved cooling griddle, photons take 50,000 years to bang
around and spin off progeny of less and less ambition. Poles shift and pop up
at the sunís equator and, every 11 years, sunspots dot the photosphere like someone
making dollar pancakes. Back on track, light spends 500 seconds of unperturbed

isolation, then slams our little planet. It would, of course, kill us in a minute. Luckily,
the troposphere absorbs all but enough to give my second wife a nice even tan and leave
with the guy in the Miata. She would chat from the balcony while I computed how much
information passed from her mouth the man with the sports car, roughly

-∑ Pm log2 Pm

Think of the little mís as mass, momentum, and my missing heartbeats. She the free radical,
and I the banker in a convex mirror. I was short on endorphins, she was moving
like a hot spot. Thereís a theorem that shows that some things are unknowable. I read it
and wrote a short plea to the Pope, suggesting GŲdel be beatified. Iím always doing that

sort of thing and never sure about the postage. Sometimes, itís the alcohol shutting down
the frontal lobes, sometimes itís just out-of-date tables. This is not the kind of uncertainty
popularized by Erwin and his cat, not that Albert ever believed it. Thank God he died
before we found particles popping out of nowhere. My second wife showed up

20 years later too, but thatís another poem. And another lover, like a proof by induction,
which goes:

Step 1: Verify that the desired result holds for n=1.
Step 2: Assume that the desired result holds for n=k.
Step 3: Use the assumption from step 2 to show that the result holds for n=(k+1).

Note how desire insinuates itself into the simplest of mathematical methods. Think Albert
and his mistresses, Descartes and his need to unknow God (of course heíd been through
a war). Thereís no science of desire. Itís older than that. I thought Iíd be a paleontologist.
By the time Alvarez and his son predicted the meteor that annihilated the Yucatan, I was

already on to algorithms. Theyíre like those mail-order plastic mats with footprints
and arrows that teach you how to samba. They donít always work, theyíre counting on
abandonment. And desire, two apogees of the pendulum. There's one the size of a Kronos
yo-yo in the Smithsonian. It's hard to watch it and not wonder how it stays true. Ignoring

the spin of the world. Back and forth through the light of the canopy. As if it knows
where itís going and then, just as certain, changes its mind.