Higher Math

for Roger

If topoi means the place, and logos means the study,
then topology means the thing you studied,
the evidence of which was, among other things
the scraps of paper strewn around the apartment,
on the glass coffee table, kitchen counter, sometimes
next to the soap dish on the bathroom sink,
notes with x and y and symbols that confounded us.

It was Greek to me—All I knew
was it involved sets, like a set of points
and a set of neighborhoods from each point.
You might have explained once or twice
you studied a mathematical space that allowed for
continuity, connectedness, convergence.
Those, I understood.

You said a neighborhood of a point is a set
containing the point where one can
move that point without leaving the set.

You said, if x equals a topological space,
and p equals a point in that space we might call x,
then a neighborhood of p is a subset—
call it V—of x that includes
an open set U containing p.

I was so out of my element—chagrined at how little
I knew about points, sets and neighborhoods.

Here’s what I know:
You are and were continuous, you’re connected to
The rest of us, you converge, in a number of spaces, with us.
You know your neighborhood, like your
neighborhoods of past and future
containing you, you know the points to which
you can move points
without leaving the set of family, friends.

You’re the central unifying notion
of this convergence of us who in one way or
another rely on you—you help us map
the deepest, most human things.


Reprinted from  Work to a Calm literary magazine, February 2016