210. Cissy Thinks

Ellipse. Two

Sum of the distance
From the two fixed points
To the perimeter
Is constant.
Draw one:
Two pins in a cardboard,
And a string.
Pull taut, with pencil, slowly:
An ellipse.
This pin is the sun.
Second pin, the unknown focus,
Out in space.
This is the path of Mercury;
Of Venus;
Of Mars. The distance from
The foci to the orbit,
In its sum,
Is constant.

Rhombus. There.
Looks like it’s leaning,
Teacher says.
She is wrong.
Leaning by what measure?
What is plumb?
There’s none:
Algebra and functions….
Leaning, maybe,
If it was a square.
It’s no square, though:
Rhombus. Stretch it–
Where’s the straightedge–
Stretch it. Taller
One, a shorter one,
A lying-down one:

Too many square shapes–
Curve here, curve there,
Paper comes to life,
They were its wings. Stop
Pencil where you may,
Parabola extends
Infinitely. To
Infinity: as if that were
A place. Its strange name,
Parabola, I asked her.
Asked Teacher–from
The same word as came
Parable, she says.
What I read last night,
The Bible story: what I’ll
Read aloud tonight, dinner
To bed, at home, to
Her, because he says to do:
Honor thy father and thy mother.
But she’s sleeping with her bottle,
Doesn’t hear.
Read your ma now from this book.
How come he makes me?–
Exodus. Leviticus. Numbers….
Where is my protractor now?
Here it is: Must keep these
Safe at school.

Put that parabola
Inside this empty axis, X and Y.
But it outgrows.
Balance rhomboids, strung
Along the line, then draw
An angle that connects–
That intersects–
If there were some kind of
Power, an electric charge
Put through,
It has a path,
The figures feed each other,
Or it flows
Out the parabola….
Or in….

I don’t care for that:
Nothing to draw.
Move the two foci
Close, close together.
They’re one point–
A perfect circle.
I don’t care:
Nothing to draw.
Ellipses, every kind,
Expand, contract,
And all the triangles within
Pull at each other, and the changing
Lengths of string,
The moving pins….

Parabola will never
Meet itself, but widens,
Pries through space,
A flashlight beam.

Rutherford says the atom
Is a muffin, with the particles
For raisins, stuck within.
What if it moves inside?
The book is old.
What if they move,
With room, and empty space?
What would it look like then?

She frowned, and began
To draw again.

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