Dragonflies and Algebra

Dragonflies and Algebra

by Dennis Trujillo

Today as I taught algebra
A throng of dragonflies
Hovered at my classroom
Window—gossamer wings
Gleamed in the autumn
Sun. Thousands of lenses
In compound eyes seized
Upon every number
And symbol on the board.

My students were watching the clock:
waiting to be rescued by lunch
But the dragonflies gazed
With rapt attention—
Iridescent bodies beamed
With interest. They shunned
The classrooms near mine
—English Lit and History—
As they sought only
The cold light of math
And were unmoved
By Shakespeare
And the Industrial Revolution.

The bell rang and gel-haired
Students vanished
But the dragonflies remained
—Wanting more.
I turned
To the next lesson and began
Explaining exponential equations.

Author’s Comment: I really was teaching algebra when the idea for this poem came to me. It wasn’t a “throng” of dragonflies — just two — and they may have been mating. Still, they hovered at my window for a few seconds and it was enough to cause me to stop speaking in mid-sentence. One of the greatest joys of poetry is when inspiration strikes.

Bio: Dennis Trujillo is a high school math teacher who happens to love poetry. He is a new poet: this is his first year of writing poems for publication. Several of his poems appear in current or forthcoming issues of The Storyteller, and Atlantic Pacific Press. A 1976 West Point graduate, Dennis served in the Army for twenty years before embarking on his current career as a math teacher. Although this is perhaps an unusual background for a poet, he takes inspiration from Borges’s declaration that poetry is a combination of fire and algebra

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4 thoughts on “Dragonflies and Algebra

  1. I love when poets write about math and science and I really need to use that idea that poetry is a combo of fire and algebra 🙂

  2. Thank you for the reach you make from our species to another species. Those reaches can sometimes be just fun, and other times be life-changing. Your poem is some of both.

  3. The images, the math (I was hopeless at it), the whole classroom metaphor in such lovely language makes this old teacher (sadly only of English) live again in an afternoon classroom with big windows. Thank you for the wonderful implications in the concrete.

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