Thursday, November 04, 2004

The urge to classify

Is so strong.

Box it up neatly, and maybe I can
Call "Brown", pick up at 10,
Deliver it to USA Self Storage
Lock it in and wait for the next election.

There are fiftyninemillionseventeenthousandthreehundredeightytwo
People I'd like to condense down into one box,
Down into some three ingredient recipe some
Simple formula for this vote that separates me
From you
From bad
Make it small enough to describe, control, dismiss
Language of a sixth grader, language of an election
Language of a soundbite.
As if a page of words can explain the feelings, motives
Histories, beliefs of fiftyninemillionseventeenthousandthreehundredeightytwo
Individuals who are not me.

But what are the chances that one of the fiftyninemillionseventeenthousandthreehundredeightytwo
Is more like me than I dare to believe?

Division. There is page after page of problems in the homework packet
He spends hours putting one number into another, finding remainders
Subtracting until there is nothing left, neatly solved.
We say division is the wake of this election
But this is nothing like the methodical effort of
Dividing one hundred into fiftyone percent and fortynine percent,
Dividing the map into twohundredseventynine red and twohundredfiftytwo blue
Dividing my neighborhood into Bush signs or Kerry signs
The signs no one has taken down because
This is who "I AM" this is who "YOU ARE" this is how we disagree
This is the gulf we have to cross
This is both artificial and real
This is the conversation we don't want to have
These are the assumptions we refuse to give up
Why you said Bush Why I said Kerry
This is an equation of irrational numbers
We will write it in its simplest form
We will round down and round up and still
We will find an inequality in the problem
And we will round it down again until
There is no common denominator left to identify
Why I can talk to you
Why you can talk to me
This is the gulf we have to cross

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