The Sum of All Things


The Sum of All Things

In 1934, Roosevelt put an end
to farm foreclosures. Federal agents
killed Bonnie, Clyde, Dillinger,

and Pretty Boy Floyd. In May,
a Black Blizzard blew most of Texas,
Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas,

grain by grain, into the Atlantic.
Hitler became Führer of the masses, and
two broken-hearted Lindberghs

still fled from the press. My dad,
who turned six that year,
started first grade and reveled

in the smell of gas exhaust
on the bus ride to town, even though
country kids were packed like pigs

on the long facing pews, their backs
braced against the world by simple
planks and canvas to keep

the rain out. Young and poor
and full of grits, it’s hard to know
how much hell can break loose,

or even if it matters much. But
every lanterned night he learned
the trade of sums on borrowed

paper, seeing how one thing
adds to another to make something
new. In the end, math

got the best of him: the relent-
less Winstons, the crazy
wife with all her curtains tagged

and packed, the miles and miles
of oxygen tube, the liquid
that builds, gram by gram, round

a struggling heart and finally
stops it cold as a pine knot.


One thought on “The Sum of All Things

  1. I too was guilty of loading up my tray with as it saved me the trouble of
    returning to the buffet tables for seconds. Then again, why was brushing the teeth so dammed important anyway.

    Siobhan Dowd weaves the story of sacrifice of a young Irish man in 1981 and a young
    woman who lived during the Iron Age.


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