2 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 1 = 11:

The teacher knew the number eleven

was not the correct mathematical sum


He looked at the faces of his puzzled students,

back at the problem scribbled in chalk


Neither was the number ten a plausible result

He could not account for the missing integer,

nor the aggregate of his life so far:

Monica, Carole, Suzanne, Julia, Maggie,

war, rage, kisses, birdsong, morning

He left the number eleven as he wrote it