C = F/D
The mathematician spits formulae,
as fast as a machine gun,
like we can understand as easily as he
how the universe runs on numbers.
He fills the board with chalky trails,
secret runes and glyphs until
in the corner, he boldly underlines
his final symbols, his final answer,
before triumphant spin, eyes ablaze,
chalk scrap launched to heaven,
My pen spins around my fingertips.
Does he think we will applaud?
Our life’s denominators are lower,
more common than Corrie or Strictly,
or Beckham, or Facebook,
and anyway, everyone knows
C is directly proportional
to F over D
where C equals caring,
D equals geographical distance,
F equals familiarity
(with the faces,
with the hunger and rape,
the bullet, and disease).
It is no secret,
the further away they are,
the gravitational pull of a stranger
grows weaker on the tide.
Let’s call it the theory
of relative caring,
and let’s admit
it helps us sleep at night.
Beyond the classroom window
a cloud is drifting by.
It is shaped like a crocodile.
We wait for the home time bell.