Iowa Writes

AMY LEE SCOTT
Cardio Cardinals


Mathematicians concern themselves with infinity. They like to talk about it, as if it were something that can actually be explained. To me, infinity is infinite because it cannot be described. But these mathematicians, unlike writers, have done something incredible to contain their frustration. George Cantor wanted, with the courageous futility that some might call faith, to discuss the size of infinite sets. To do this, he created an ironic set of finite terminology. Mathematicians, unlike writers, also have concrete terms for absences, for empty or null sets. They call it {bracketing}. Mathematical cardinal sets seek to discuss infinity; when they cannot, they bracket. Language seeks also to discuss and bracket.

*

Currently, he is with another girl whose hair, so I'm told, resembles almost dirty dishwater and whose sturdy shoes invite snap judgments. I'm left here typing through this Sunday morning on my balcony that is too small to hold me like I need it to. I'm left here almost alone, red and embarrassed for more reasons than I care to divulge, trying to resolve my heart with him. But here's the simple, terrible truth: I'm not with him. I'm walking through fields holding hands with another man twice my size whose hands meet mine while the sun warms red mountains and strips green grasses to white. Our hands meet, as do our shoulders. Our knees, too, and our hips. Our foreheads, the little hairs on our arms, even our ankles. I'm left here with a pit in my heart. 

*

Mathematicians concern themselves with infinity. They like to talk about it, as if it were something that can actually be explained. To me, infinity is infinite because it cannot be described. But these mathematicians, unlike writers, have done something incredible to contain their frustration. George Cantor wanted, with the courageous futility that some might call faith, to discuss the size of infinite sets. To do this, he created an ironic set of finite terminology. Mathematicians, unlike writers, also have concrete terms for absences, for empty or null sets. They call it {bracketing}. Mathematical cardinal sets seek to discuss infinity; when they cannot, they bracket. Language seeks also to discuss and bracket.

*

Currently, he is with another girl whose hair, so I'm told, resembles almost dirty dishwater and whose sturdy shoes invite snap judgments. I'm left here typing through this Sunday morning on my balcony that is too small to hold me like I need it to. I'm left here almost alone, red and embarrassed for more reasons than I care to divulge, trying to resolve my heart with him. But here's the simple, terrible truth: I'm not with him. I'm walking through fields holding hands with another man twice my size whose hands meet mine while the sun warms red mountains and strips green grasses to white. Our hands meet, as do our shoulders. Our knees, too, and our hips. Our foreheads, the little hairs on our arms, even our ankles. I'm left here with a pit in my heart. 

*

Last night I dreamt that I peeled away the tough cardiovascular skin to expose my heart's pocked stone. I tucked it in my pocket until I came to a black field and then planted it to see what would grow. I waited too long; I never saw the faintest hint of green. But: the expanding field that proved, with its contrast, that it is possible for the sky to be too-blue. The small hill that was really an inside-out hole made from black soil, the small impression of my thumb, the inexplicable tropical bird that flew by in a frenzy of rainbow wings. Mais oui, le temps perdu flew by in a zoetrope flash and the mountains rushed in to form a cave around me. They blocked out the sun, casting deep purple shadows over the still-warm soil kissed by the plane of my thumb. 

A sudden cave dweller, I crouched next to the inside-out hole and thought a fire into existence. It wasn't enough. The darkness was too cold, too strong. I hadn't thought to bring a sweater. I thought about mountain lions and bats and Grendel and pairs of teens that die swimming in the heart of caves. The fire, seduced by a faint strain of oxygen, flamed and illuminated the space. Somehow, amongst the golden flames, I saw the hint of green. Impossible. But, a hushed tendril that pushed up a crystalline structure devised out of a series of pale, white petals. The fire's heat melted the flower's ice to reveal fuzzy white. Velvet. The lip of a child after freshly baked cookies dunked in milk. Or maybe white sunlight refracting off ocean waves. 

*

There is nothing to lose.

Am I right?

I have nothing to lose.

*

Inescapable (I): When nothing becomes something. 

Useful (U): When something becomes nothing.

{I: You :: U: Me.} 

It's fascinating; life's certain dichotomies that create certain dialectics. Mapped out in mathematics, a language that once entirely eluded me, it appears so clear: the defamiliarization process (K, totally indescribable) of letting go. 

*
{I: You + U: Me = K}.

more

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


AMY LEE SCOTT

Amy Lee Scott is an MFA candidate in the Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa. Her essays and poems have appeared in JuiceBox Journal, The Iron Horse Literary Review, Quarter After Eight, and Brevity.

This page was first displayed
on January 23, 2009

Find us on Facebook