After Math

After Math

Forget algebra, geometry,
calculus, and trig—
the hardest math has always

been After Math. Think
about the plane’s last
tangent, its point of perfect

intersection with the Alps’
triangular peaks. Add
and plot each obliterated

piece until you see
the linear equation for
the harrowed, black slope

of a neverending line.
Then, remember your own
mother, who wrung her hands

at the kitchen table,
helpless to help you
with the inexplicable

New Math, until she too
reached a terminal point
and lamented the loss

of the Old Math, whose
subtrahends, minuends, and
differences are, you now

know, the hardest math
of all.

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