Sunday Poetry: The Domesticity of Addition

Welcome to Sunday Poetry.  If this is your first visit you can read about the purpose and inspiration of my Sunday blogs here.

Today’s poem, Numbers by Mary Cornish, comes to us from Poetry 180, and I’ve included it in honor of all those students and teachers back in classrooms this month, struggling with addition or algebra or calculus.  I relate.  I would find calculus a struggle, wouldn’t you? 

Cornish gives us a new view of numbers, one that suits me so much better than complicated problems, with only one correct answer, done in full view of a classroom on a squeaky chalkboard.  I shiver over the memory.

“Even subtraction is never loss.  Just addition somewhere else.”  Is she talking about life or numbers?  You be the judge.

Remember there are no quizzes here, no right ways to read or contemplate the poem we share.  No dissecting allowed.  Just come along for the “read,” and enjoy the experience.    What line, word or thought will you carry along with you this week?  And if you’d like to tell us where the poem took you?  We’ll listen.


  1. Wanda on September 20, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I love this poem. It reminds me of some of my grandmother’s saying, especially “the gift of an odd remainder.” She would say things that often took years to understand when I was a child and I often thought she was being weird, but in truth she was giving me wisdom for future years. To me this poem reminds of of things often overlooked. “Even subtraction is never loss, just addition somewhere else.” Makes me think of all the times growing up as a military child when a friend moved away and a new friend moved in to fill the spot, not to replace them just to fill the spot. The death of a loved on, and the birth of a new baby. Old souls in a new body, when you see things in a child that remind you of a grandparent.

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