One

number-one


One

I am Brahma
the straight line, the upright being,

fire that flares,
seed without end, manifold

self beyond all
polarity, radiating sun:
the all.

Philosophers considered one a non-number,
generatrix of all that follows.

Other.

The singularity. The lone.

From the Indo-European oi-qos we achieve solitude,
while the collective meaning of one derives from the Sanskrit sam.

United in itself, it changes nothing,
becoming everything.

On its side it represents the horizon.

Alone is all-one.
The Latin non is one negated, as is the German nein.

Symbol of intellect, the Hindu moon glows wide.
Atomic number of hydrogen, magician’s numeral,

monad and eccentric, I bear the empty product.

one on side

“One” last appeared here in April 2017.

Snow with Moose

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Snow with Moose

Guide to the incremental, to the sifted mass. The Phoenician mem shifted
shapes, but always suggested water.

Moose likely derives from the Algonquian descriptor “he strips away.”

The Japanese character for water, mizu, evokes currents.

Moose are solitary creatures and do not form herds. A bilabial consonant,
M is a primary sound throughout the world.

The prehensile upper lip undresses branches and grabs shoots.

Wavering, I share the lack of definition, of clarity in design and choice.

The sound is prevalent in the words for mother in many unrelated tongues,
from Hindi to Mandarin, Hawaiian to Quechua, and of course English.

Eleven strokes compose the Japanese character for snow.

A smile would reveal no upper front teeth.

Long legs enable adults to manage snow up to three feet deep. Under water,
individual flakes striking the surface sound similar, despite size disparities.

It can also accurately be classified as a mineral.

Solitude to connection, dark on white. The lone traveler.

moose

“Snow with Moose” first appeared here in December 2015.

One

number-one


One

I am Brahma
the straight line, the upright being,

fire that flares,
seed without end, manifold

self beyond all
polarity, radiating sun:
the all.

Philosophers considered one a non-number,
generatrix of all that follows.

Other.

The singularity. The lone.

From the Indo-European oi-qos we achieve solitude,
while the collective meaning of one derives from the Sanskrit sam.

United in itself, it changes nothing,
becoming everything.

On its side it represents the horizon.

Alone is all-one.
The Latin non is one negated, as is the German nein.

Symbol of intellect, the Hindu moon glows wide.
Atomic number of hydrogen, magician’s numeral,

monad and eccentric, I bear the empty product.

one on side

“One” first appeared here in February 2016.

Thinking of Language

words

Yesterday, while avoiding the big rig frenzy on the wet highway, I heard a fascinating talk on NPR’s TED Radio Hour, Phuc Tran’s “Does the Subjunctive Have a Dark Side.” The idea of how one’s language, one’s grammar, can shape or affect a culture, has never been made so apparent to me as in this well articulated piece.

I Have Misplaced Entire Languages

ships

I Have Misplaced Entire Languages

Neither this tongue nor that still dwells in my house.
The hole of remembrance constricts, leaving behind only debris.

As a child I mixed three languages in family discourse.

Now only one is comprehensible, and I abuse it daily.

The woman in the blue dress stands alone on the pier, weeping.
A pidgin is a simplified language developed between groups with no

common tongue. Sounds form easily, but meanings struggle.

My father is shipped to Korea without warning.

Some words insert epenthetic consonants to separate vowels. Years
later we arrive in Italy and my mother starts receding.

A fourth language emerges.

This morning I asked, “Ame?” “Yes,” she said, “but just drizzling.”

Some families share no common language and must forge without.
We have used pain, pane and pan without reference to etymology.

Having abandoned the familiar, she chose another, never accepting the loss.

These forms we can’t articulate, these memories we have not traced.

* * *

This was originally published in April 2014 as part of Boston Review‘s National Poetry Month Celebration, and also appeared on this blog in July 2015.

bread