The Mathematician’s Next Life

by Amit Majmudar

i.m. Maryam Mirzakhani 

I wonder if she’ll string 
spidersilk with abacus dewdrops, 
subtracting drag from thrust.

Swaddled in octopus chromatophores,
she could toy with wavelengths while she dreamed— 
bleached-reef white, quantum mottle, ink and honey.

The lawn’s scatterplotted
dandelions match the doubling rate
of stars, memories, exponents, cancer cells.

There’s always another number
beyond what feels like the end of the sequence,
a further prime anchored in one of infinity’s leeward coves.

Tehran might welcome
to the balcony this bulbul who will fold her wings 
in half eight times.

Her life was an integer
that came before the first prime number,
a single logarithm pulsing for a single song.
The day before and the day after the funeral 
expressed the empty set with brackets around 
a blank, bookends on a stripped shelf.

Maybe she’s already back, 
rediscovering the calculus of her body 
with a muscular velocity of paw.

In this, her half
life, she only covered half the chalkboard
with the numbers that spelled, indelibly, her name.

Though I’ll never pull my chair close
and watch her finish the sequence, maybe
one day, my wonder at the wonder of her squared,

I’ll meet her by chance in the woods and recognize her 
hundred green hands by the dreamcatcher leaf veins 
fractalling out from her wrists.



Amit Majmudar is a widely published poet, novelist, essayist, and translator. His latest collection is What He Did in Solitary (Knopf, 2020). He is a diagnostic radiologist and the former first Poet Laurate of Ohio.