Number Theory: |x|, 3

I wrote this poem about two years ago in honor of my brother Matt, who took his own life at age 23. I’ve been thinking a lot about him lately, continuing to realize how much my personality is shaped by our childhood friendship. I owe so much to him and I will always miss him.


Number Theory: |x|, 3

for Matt (1981-2004)

absolute value: the actual magnitude
of a numerical value

irrespective of its relation
to other values

Of the six (sister, brother, sister,
sister, brother sister)

he was two,
and she was three.

He was Hook,
and she was Smee.

Once, she jumped
from the high branch because

he said otherwise he would leave her
all night, and she would miss the

circus. He jumped
first. That’s how it always was

with them: two, then three.
If he, then she.

Like him, she broke no limbs.
She only felt a new

kind of alive
in the drop, the jolt of everything compressing.

Understand, she never wanted
to be 2. This is how it worked:

2, then 3.
Simple

until 2
made himself |x|

and 3
didn’t follow.