In a World of Truly Large Numbers, We’re Exactly Two People

Two poems by James Kimbrell

photo of Earth from space

In a World of Truly Large Numbers, We’re Exactly Two People

The Law of Truly Large Numbers

  
 “…With a large enough sample, any outrageous thing is likely to happen.”
 —Persi Diaconis and Frederick Mosteller, “Methods for Studying Coincidences” 
  
 Earth is so heavy with people, my love,
 We’ve doubled our numbers since my arrival. 
 You can still fit twenty humans into a Volkswagen Beetle,
 but I worry, will there be enough seatbelts 
 for our four children? What if civilization 
 bottoms out backing down our driveway?
 Or you can populate two New York Cities
 with people that share your birthday. 
 Isn’t that, and that, and that a coincidence?
 A miracle might strike at any moment. 
 Everything rare is well done. Everyone compares
 their lottery winnings. So long, religion.
 down the road, rabbit’s foot. But even
 in a world of colossal, humongous, truly superb,
 blimp-sized numbers, my love, we’re 
 exactly two people. And when we sleep,
 despite what my snoring might suggest, 
 I am only one man. And of that night
 I proposed with Chablis and pawn shop diamond
 beneath the walnut tree, and you said yes, 
 I’ll say this: quantity only betters the structure
 of affection, the architecture of surprise.
 As when you step from the shower
 and search for your towel even though 
 I’ve hidden it for the millionth time
 so that I might behold you searching
 for your towel until you finally ask, “Hey, have you 
 seen my towel?” At which point 
 I jump to the rescue with dry, fluffy, 
 wondrous towels worthy of Nefertiti,
 and the whole morning smells like sweet pea 
 and violet body wash, lavender and citrus 
 anti-frizz conditioner, and this is only
 the first hour of the day. I’m one
 timeline away from figuring out
 when the odds kicked in, how I found you.
 It’s so crowded, my love, and we’ve all
 been mistaken for someone else 
 with the same first name and a one-digit difference
 in our social security numbers. If only
 we could hold a truly large mirror
 up to Earth, we could at least gain the illusion
 of spaciousness. This would also solve
 the problem of surveillance. Everybody 
 making love outside, looking up
 at themselves making love in the sky.  

Hey Dwayne

  --Reunion, Class of ’85
  
 Didn’t you shoot the water tower with a dart gun?
 Didn’t you join the Masons? Didn’t we walk down 
 the swamp road and spew pot smoke into each other’s faces 
  
 concurrent with hyper-ventilation? Didn’t I fall down 
 for a minute, then wake in awe of Def Leppard, 
 loblolly pines like compass needles fucked with
  
 by the wind-magnet? Didn’t we go to three funerals
 that Saturday? Didn’t we sit in the abandoned 
 tractor trailer shifting the dead gears? Didn’t they 
  
 sound like a hailstorm of horse teeth? Didn’t the well water 
 taste like matchheads? Wasn’t our team sponsored 
 by the sawed-off light of the turpentine factory? 
  
 Didn’t our coach point to the example with a busted 
 car antennae? Didn’t we ride your Kawasaki in the rain 
 all the way to Turkey Fork in December? Didn’t the gray sky 
  
 leave a skid mark on the ridgeline? Wasn’t there 
 supposed to be a bonfire at the bridge, but the boat-
 ramp gate was welded shut, and the weedy beach 
  
 was empty, but for an x of smoldering driftwood? 


About the Author

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