I don't know why my mind goes numb with
A couple of months ago, in the Kittay House elevator,
a man in his nineties who smiled at me.
"How many cubic feet in a
He asked. I panicked. I should have known right
"Nine," I said, knowing that had to be wrong.
"Look it up!" he
chortled. "Look it up!"
The elevator stopped. I got off. It hit
"Twenty-seven!" I said. To myself. Too late.
About six weeks later, again. Same man. Same
"How many cubic feet in a three-foot cube?"
smile. I know you don't know.
Again I panicked. I didn't remember the
Time. Nor did he. Is Alzheimer's catching?
"Nine," I said
again, knowing again
It was wrong. And then, again, after
elevator doors had closed: "Twenty-seven!"
I imagined the old man
chortling in his victory
Over ignorance. My ignorance.
What is it about numbers that makes my
Go numb? Maybe I don't like questions with answers
That make me
look stupid. Smug answers,
Chortling in their victories. Right
Exposing me naked to the heehawing rain.
questions I haven't asked.
Easier not to know even where to
Copyright by Nicholas Gordon