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negative three: number theory


Aging is just learning new definitions for numbers. Is changing

numerical figures to human ones. Is remaking digits as the

spacing of fingers, to their capacity to do magic, to spin

something from nothing. Ekhi Omkar. One is God. One is

nothing and one is all; God is nothing and God is all. Two is you

and I. You, but I? You, and I. Three is the number of leaves on the

clovers I find. I have never been one for luck. Four. The number

of chambers in your heart, three of which I have been to, one of

which I never will: the left ventricle that brings blood to the rest

of your body. Do I give life to you? Five. The day when God made humankind,

when he created and created and created, and gave

to what he created, and then stood up to gaze at what he made.

Indeed, it was very good, but was it good enough? Six. The

branches of a snowflake, melting onto your nose under the

winter afternoon sun. The date of my birthday, where I blew out

the candles and dumbly wished for more wishes. No one was

listening. Or so I thought. Seven. The Sabbath. Rest. Sink into the

mattress and recall the great warmth that came from being held.

Rub your hands together and build a fire. Eight is the legs of

Anansi, the spider who gave us the Word. Is the length of the

path to be walked. To be free from. Nine, written in that

kindergartener script, is just the removal of a line away from n · ne. None. How easy it is to rob. Will you hold me when they

take from me? Will you wield a weapon, or simply wrap me in

blankets, throw your body over mine, sing me a spiritual? Will

you call upon angels, or will you face darkness yourself? Are you afraid?


Max Zhang

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