Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer. Our current guest editor is Beth Spencer.

Although Sister Mary Hortense tried her best, I never bought the beauty of Geometry, nor, as she claimed, its proximity to poetry. That is, until I read Paula Reed Nancarrow’s beautifully crafted poem, “Q.E.D.” She makes the subject a true delight and uses it to elucidate the relationship between the poem’s two characters. Paula’s conclusion brilliantly reveals the role reversal and precise moment of understanding blooming in the pupil of a patient teacher.

Beth Spencer

Q.E.D.
Paula Reed Nancarrow

for Lilabet

I cannot prove the triangles congruent
though they sit neatly inside the circle
their sides a radiant X: Isosceles twins.
A bow tie. A butterfly. 

You sit at our dining room table
plotting it out for me: 
This is given.  ​That is self-evident. 
Your chestnut hair tumbles over your face

hiding your acne. Tiny holes remain
in the table’s surface from my old
Spirograph. In the quiet privacy 
of your mind, you see the logic of shapes. 

My noisy brain makes twins rubbing
noses.  A bow tie.  A butterfly. 
It is all simple deduction
except for what we begin with: 

A point has no space.  
A line has no breadth.
A plane has two dimensions 
and goes on forever.

Angles are inclinations. 
Chords incline toward what is 
demonstrated. Ergo I am given
you. Over and over

like Anne Sullivan at the pump
you spell postulates into my hand 
until suddenly – fresh and clear and cold –
Elegance overwhelms me.

***

Q.E.D. means “quod erat demonstrandum” in Latin and was written at the bottom of the author’s geometry papers to indicate that she had shown the required proofs.

***

Paula Reed Nancarrow is a poet and storyteller living in Minneapolis. She has performed at the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the Moth Grand Slam at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater, and other venues.  

Her poetry is published in BluepepperNeologism, and Tiny Seed.  Find her at paulareednancarrow.com.

“Q.E.D.” first appeared in Bluepepper, and appears here with the permission of the author.