2015-04-19 12.48.14-1

Carrying the One


We both learned languages—you started
Latin in sixth grade, row after ordered row
of declensions, while I was forced into French
my freshman year, rules so random they seem
pieced together by three teenage boys

in a basement passing the time until
the rain stops.  Our brains are built for words,
not numbers.  We count in three categories:
one, two, and many.  We can tell if a cartoon
character has two or three hairs
on his head at a glance, but four or five

fingers force us to focus.  You used
those categories, told me I told one
too many jokes, made one too many
mentions of how you laughed at co-workers’
comments:  louder and longer.  You said
you were different, the exception

that proves the rule; you knew if you had said
something once or one thousand four hundred
and two times.  You could move decimal places
in your mind. You knew what the remainder
would be when it came time to divide.


About the Author: Kevin Brown is a Professor at Lee University. He has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (forthcoming from Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press, 2009). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. He received his MFA from Murray State University. You can find out more about him and his work at http://www.kevinbrownwrites.com/