Jesse Weiner

Poem For Lorna Dee On Our Birthday - Poem by Jesse Weiner

I didn't want to talk about birthdays,
they're no comfort to me anymore,
they bring me things like
atom bombs and electric chairs,
and the wrong kind of chemistry,
what I wanted to talk about was
lightning, not lightning striking,
which is what this birthday reminds
me of, but about ball lightning, about
how scientists argue, about how most
say it doesn't even exist, but observers
have noted that it gives off little heat, that
it is spherical in shape, that it glows
in different colors and moves, sometimes
hovering or bouncing, and that it
often disappears with a loud explosion.

but that's not why I wanted to talk about
ball lightning, it's that some
observers think it might explain spontaneous
combustion in humans. little is known
about spontaneous human combustion
and less is widely believed, but there have
been reports of bodies burned in their
own substance, without external cause
and showing a remarkable lack of
damage to surrounding objects. also
reported but not understood is
the near total disintegration of the body
to a powdery ash, this effect being unusual
to the point of impossibility. there is some
suggestion that this supposed phenomenon
is related to a sharp increase in local intensity
of the earth's magnetic field. but I didn't

want to talk about combustion, or
magnetism, or about attraction, I
only mentioned combustion because
I wanted to talk about the four color problem.
when I was twelve and reading math,
I learned about maps, how cartographers
knew you could color any map
with only four colors having each adjacent
area different, but no one had
ever proven this. I worked on the
problem with no success until
I started to find girls more compelling
than math or maps of the earth.
but I didn't want to talk about
the earth, or even about maps,
which represent the earth, or about
maps for finding you, what I really

wanted to talk about is topology,
about the nature of connections,
connection between points, and between
things, about shapes which can be
deformed, smoothly and continuously,
without tearing or cutting, not like
a sphere into a doughnut,
which must have a hole torn,
but like a coffee mug, which is
thus the topological equivalent of a doughnut,
and biology proves it is true that
each part of a female has its equivalent
on the male, that there is no male part
lacking its female analogue. and I know
that what used to be so different
for me is really the same, that you are
my other and are also me, and that
on our birthday I wish us both
another poem.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, July 15, 2005

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