The New Math

March 2020

My daughter pots plants in the desert.
In the desert, pandemic is elsewhere.
Or that’s the theorem.

If the proof is in percentages,
I tell her to wear gloves, her hands
in the dirt in the desert nursery,

her hands cradling succulents
into the soil. From the north
we send our hearts

and our warnings. In the north
I watch and try not to watch
the death count rising

exponentially. I count on hope,
square my worry with my wellness
I send to the desert where

my daughter nurses chicks and hens
for people who come to shop.
Because her boss grows a quotient

of carrots and beans, his business
becomes essential, and I tell
my essential daughter

to say, softly, with kindness,
Six feet, please. I tell her
six feet is the distance of love.



Image: “Hens and chicks” by Robert Nunnally, licensed under CC 2.0.

“The New Math” also has been posted on PoetryBridge Times.

Joannie Stangeland
Latest posts by Joannie Stangeland (see all)


  1. I liked the use of the word essential in different meanings and the phrase ‘six feet the distance of love’. Blessings, Kate


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