093.1: Bruce Covey:: The Difference Between Segments and Vectors & It Might Take a Long Time to Partition Googolplex
27 February 2012
To partition a giant number (say, a googolplex), mathematicians represent the number in terms of smaller values that can be combined to arrive at the greater number. They do this because the number’s immensity is otherwise impossible to apprehend. This method seems a fine way to articulate something as difficult as love or beauty, and it’s a method poets have employed before. Where Elizabeth Barrett Browning famously decides to “count the ways” of love, Bruce Covey positions the shape and movement of the emotion on a grid. This poet is quick to point out the distinctions between a line segment and vector (the direction and magnitude that the segment represents). There’s certainly a felt magnitude in these poems, though the poet partitions it for us so that we might recognize its parts in our everyday lives: A cherry tree. Bubbles in a bottle of ginger ale. The exhaust that trails an airplane full of fellow travelers.