you are standing at the ocean,

in the moon’s empirical light

each mercurial wave


like a parabola shifting on its axis,

the sea’s dunes differentiated & graphed.

If this, then that. The poet


laughs. She wants to lie

in her own equation, the point slope

like a woman whispering stay me


with flagons. What is it to know the absolute value

of negative grace, to calculate

how the heart becomes the empty set


unintersectable, the first & the last?

But enough.

You are standing on the shore,


the parameters like wooden stakes.

Let x be the moon like a notary.

Let y be all things left unsaid.


Let the constant be the gold earth

waiting to envelop what remains,

the sieves of the lungs like two cones.


— Amy Quan Barry