The billionth digit of pi is 9,The last month without a full moon,February, 1865—This morning I am making a listOf the last lines of parablesAbout the work of numbers, aboutCalculations, marking the speedWith which blood travels, as if three feetPer second were like the blessingsOn the late workers in a vineyardOr a son just home from living with swine.
Someone continues the divisionThat computes the decimals of pi—He is telling a story, numeralsSpilling out toward infinity,The counting a language, a lifeBeyond this one, as difficultTo believe as the number of hoursWe’ve slept together, darkness returningAnd vanishing, the moments, nightly,Between your breaths, the hesitationsIn your deep sleep; my own held breath,Listening, and then, temporarilyRelieved, turning toward the window,Reciting the autonomic lessonOf your lungs that swell and shrinkAt last, in rhythm, their vitalCapacity, in liters, 3.1. [End Page 333]
Gary Fincke’s collection of poems, The History of Permanence (Austin University Press, 2011), was awarded the Stephen F. Austin Poetry Prize. His most recent book, a collection of stories, is The Proper Words for Sin (West Virginia University Press, 2013). Fincke is the Charles Degenstein Professor of Creative Writing at Susquehanna University.