The grammarian troubles herself with the problem of numbers

When she sleeps, the sums live in a cupboard
behind thin glass doors. She propagates cuttings
in clear plastic trays, cards the new roots

with a stiff wire comb. She thins them as they tangle.
Tweezes the petals of one, watches a pair of buds
grow rabbit-eared nodes. She collects the gray nouns,

catalogs them by function and heft. Two pushes out of
its yellow seed skin, becomes three. Half a dozen
cotyledons split, nosing their white-flocked cocoons,

the chorus agrees to be lone or many on alternating
Sundays. When the third trout or rhinoceros appears,
she nudges it over the break. Lithe scales swat air, horns

clip brass at the height of the symphony’s swell.
She begins to experiment with division, snuggles
a saw-leafed pup beside a seedling the color of flame.

A family of pheasants grows rose-petaled coats. She waters
the worsted seams, watches to see when the fawns
in their cardboard pots will come into spotted fruit.

IRIS A. LAW is a poet, editor, and educator living in the San Francisco Bay area. A Kundiman fellow whose poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as Hyphen, the Margins, Counterclock, and Waxwing, she is also founding coeditor of the literary magazine Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry. Her chapbook, Periodicity, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013.

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