Story Problems

In the evening, I work story problems with my daughter
If a teacher has 25 students, and 312 raffle tickets
How would she divide them evenly between them?
And what will be left over?
(So much will be left over)
 
I don’t even hassle my kid about how raffle tickets are bought, not given
(So much has been bought not given)
Not like the one story problem where alligators ate blueberry pie
Alligators don’t eat pie, I said, not vegetarian pie
That’s ridiculous
 
She laughed at me, and got the salt, and shook it all over the page
You’re salty
 
She’s a product of her age
(So much is, even me)
 
This is her age:
17 die in Florida
28 in Sandy Hook
13 in Colorado
 
I don’t even think she remembers Sandy Hook
I remember
I stood outside the back door of the elementary school with other parents, and we were red-rimmed and leaking
We talked about how it felt like Columbine, and 9/11, and the Challenger explosion
How those 20 dead children hit air and fluoresced
And we were left with hard blue streaks just behind our eyelids that could not be got out with rubbing
(Could not be got out with anything)
We caught up our children and hugged them so hard they told us we were weird.
 
You’re weird, mom, let me go.
 
Here’s a story problem:
Two students walk into a school with guns and bags of explosives
One man kills his mom and then walks into a school with a gun
One man walks into a school with a gun
One teacher uses himself as a shield
One student stands in a doorway to usher others to safety
One student sits on the floor and cries
One student calls her mom
One student runs with his hands up
One student jumps out the window
One student didn't go to school that day, because she had strep, and her inbox fills with horror
 
Here’s the answer:
Children die
Children die
Children die
 
All story problems are exponential and something like infinite
Because no parent can resolve their data set to one
When that one is dead on a school hallway floor
That dead child is neither anecdote nor data, but something worse:
It is a dead child.
 
Dead children are no answer
They are the beginning of a logarithm that curves up
Into the reckoning of our brutal calculus


(Originally written Feb 22, 2018, after the Stoneman Douglas high school shooting.) 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.