Matt McHugh
Matt - Blog - March 2007


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Poem: Ape v. Mathematician
March 7, 2007

Here's a poem. Kind of unstructured, free verse type thing--which really goes against my literary gut--but the image came to me in a dream and I didn't want lose it in the time it would take to impose a lot of structured metrics. I'll say one thing for this free verse stuff: comes out a heck of a lot quicker than rhyming iambic pentameter.

Ape v. Mathematician

An Ape and a Mathematician
May each, for their separate purposes,
Look at the stars and find them beautiful.
Which am I when I look at you?

A simple creature
   seeing only points of light,
Tracing what patterns I can between them,
Organizing infinity
   into comprehensible constellations
And thinking myself,
   in what capacity I have to do so,

Or am I the one obsessed with measuring
With ever greater precision
The astronomical distance between myself
   and each phenomenon?
The one who knows with near-certainty
That the distance between himself
   and those lights
Will never be crossed in his lifetime
Or likely any.

I, of course, am both and neither.
I am the one who has been to the stars
And has seen their beauty close up
And knows, with visceral, animal certainty
That I will never again see them but from distance.

O, to be either!
To look upon that which must remain removed
And feel only wonder
And not loss.

-- mm

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