42,000 Years Ago: Mathematics

The Sun always rises. Plant-growth echoes the cycle of seasons. Lockstep tides follow strict Moon phases.

Scratched into bones, we total our days. Pick one red berry. Pick two. Eat more. We eye sized portions of barley, rationing fairly. In branches of lindens, we estimate crows. In shallow pools, the minnows.

We count on the parts of our finite physiques. Ten fingers add to ten toes. Twenty equals one body. Every single body weighs, reaches, and measures out an odd connection with its numbers.

Mathematics reframe reality, telling unbelievable true stories. Maths express ideas our minds must bend to form – irrationality, negativity, symmetry. Wild tales of change and shape, epic quests that help us touch the surface of the Moon.

Nature functions, integrates, generalizes, differentiates what nobody’s body can easily sense, as though remaining-strange-to-us were a condition of existence. The square root of negative one red berry is imaginary. The universe’s secrets are related to us by mathematical increments.


Geoff Bouvier’s third full-length volume of prose poetry, Us From Nothing, is a poetic history spanning from the Big Bang to the near future. The book will appear in fall 2023 from Wolsak and Wynn’s Buckrider imprint in Canada and in fall 2024 from Black Lawrence Press in the United States. 

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