“Boundary Conditions” by Sneha Madhavan-Reese

Sneha Madhavan-Reese


who but men blame the angels for the wild
exceptionalism of men?
—Sam Sax, “Anti-Zionist Abecedarian”

Along the border of any governed region, there exists a value which must
satisfy its laws. This is a rule I learned for solving differential equations.
Math seems like it doesn’t exist, my newly graduated kindergartner declares.
It’s just rules that someone made up. She’s brilliant beyond her years.
On the surface of the ocean exist propagating dynamic disturbances;
in other words, waves. In other words, the boundary between air and water,
between the requirements for life, between dark and light, wrong and right,
between what can be held and what can only be imagined, between dreams
and the realities that shatter them, the things that keep us awake at night,
at every boundary there are laws, and sometimes these laws make no sense.
Of course it’s made up, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. There is math
in the air we breathe, I tell her. People die for made up reasons every day.
There is math in the shuddering earth. Find equations that govern its motion,
whether by earthquake or explosion. Try and fail, try again and fail, to solve.

from Poets Respond
November 7, 2023


Sneha Madhavan-Reese: “Nothing I can say about current events seems sufficient.”

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