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.
--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?