With These Nine Figures

zero sign

With These Nine Figures

   … and with the sign 0…any number may be written.

                                                                 Leonardo of Pisa (Fibonacci)

We attain from emptiness and the Sanskrit shoonya, from safira and sifr, zero.
As in unoccupied, as in void, as in what brims the homeland of null.
I once counted thirty-four black vultures orbiting my neighbor’s hill.
Despite appearing in Mayan codices, they neither sing nor cipher.
Fibonacci’s Book of the Abacus introduced the decimal system to Europe.
Regarding the tyranny of mathematics, is nothing something?
From alterity to belonging, its provenance assumes an absence of being.
Which is not to suggest xenophobia or superiority in order.
Whether depicted by empty space, wedges, or hooks, it held place.
Representation not of the object, but of its purpose, its path.
Black vultures do not smell carrion, but pillage from those that can.
Obliterative in the west wind, subtractive, unbound, they spiral.
Are the circlers in the sky symptomatic or merely symbolic?
Comparing negative infinity to its positive sister, I observe their way.

“With These Nine Figures” originally appeared, with a companion recording, in Clade Song in summer, 2013. I had asked a friend for five or six words to use in a poem. She provided tyranny, emptiness, xenophobia, pillage and at least one other that I’ve forgotten. But it wasn’t nothing.


19 thoughts on “With These Nine Figures

  1. Wow and wow! I will be meditating on this one for awhile, Robert. I love this: “is nothing something?” and “Representation not of the object, but of its purpose, its path.” You have such a way of pairing the invisible with the visible, the finite and infinite, life and death.

    The vultures remind me of a previous commute to work where I would pass by a row of power poles. In the winter a vulture would be atop each pole, wings spread, absorbing the morning sun. It was magical.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Soooooo long ago I studied number systems. Soooooo little of what I once grasped is retained. Soooooo fascinating reading this, feeling my mental wires struggle to reconnect. Those black vultures interrupt – they closely aligned to current thought patterns – circling mathematic synapses waiting for something to admit demise, I suppose. All that aside, I TRULY enjoyed reading this!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pure science’ purest abstraction mathematics and literature’s greatest abstraction poetry melded beautifully. To imagine one can have so much understanding of both to create this beauty is gr8. Honestly much of this is over my head. I’ll definitely comeback for a better parse and contemplation.

    Liked by 1 person

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