you are standing at the ocean,
in the moon’s empirical light
each mercurial wave
like a parabola shifting on its axis,
the sea’s dunes differentiated & graphed.
If this, then that. The poet
laughs. She wants to lie
in her own equation, the point slope
like a woman whispering stay me
with flagons. What is it to know the absolute value
of negative grace, to calculate
how the heart becomes the empty set
unintersectable, the first & the last?
You are standing on the shore,
the parameters like wooden stakes.
Let x be the moon like a notary.
Let y be all things left unsaid.
Let the constant be the gold earth
waiting to envelop what remains,
the sieves of the lungs like two cones.
—Amy Quan Barry