Joy Harjo

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11

Let Us Now Praise Prime Numbers

Let us now praise prime numbers
With our fathers who begat us:
The power, the peculiar glory of prime numbers
Is that nothing begat them,
No ancestors, no factors,
Adams among the multiplied generations.

None can foretell their coming.
Among the ordinal numbers
They do not reserve their seats, arrive unexpected.
Along the lines of cardinals
They rise like surprising pontiffs,
Each absolute, inscrutable, self-elected.

In the beginning where chaos
Ends and zero resolves,
They crowd the foreground prodigal as forest,
But middle distance thins them,
Far distance to infinity
Yields them rare as unreturning comets.

O prime improbable numbers,
Long may formula-hunters
Steam in abstraction, waste to skeleton patience:
Stay non-conformist, nuisance,
Phenomena irreducible
To system, sequence, pattern or explanation.

Helen Spaulding

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