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by J.R. Solonche

I asked my mathematician friend

if mathematics is an invention

or a discovery, for I had been

wondering about it a long time.

It’s both, he said. First it was a

discovery and then it was an

invention. I thought so, I said.

It’s just like poetry, which first

was a discovery and then was

an invention, except that poetry

keeps reinventing itself while

mathematics doesn’t. It’s done.

That’s because mathematics has

already discovered the truth, so it

doesn’t need to keep reinventing

itself as poetry does, he said.

The trouble is that you poets keep

looking for the truth in the wrong

places. Oh, where’s that? I said.

In your hearts, he said. You’ll

never find the truth there. You’ll

only keep finding the same old lies.

Maybe so, I said. But you have to

admit that you guys need us. For

what? We already have our one

beautiful truth, he said. Yes, I said.

But you need us and our thousands

of beautiful lies to let you bear your

one and only beautiful truth.

J.R. Solonche - Nominated for the National Book Award, the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize, J.R. Solonche is the author of 36 books of poetry and coauthor of another. He lives in the Hudson Valley.

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