Think of a number between one
and the age you are now. It can be
an age you liked
or one you have forgotten.

Divide by the number of pennies
you’ve thrown into a well
or a fountain or a koi pond.
Multiply by the number

of airplanes you have flown on,
rivers you have swum in,
buttons you have lost, novels
you haven’t written but plan to

someday when the number of hours
increases. Add the number of canyons
you have crossed
alone and on foot or in the car

with your friends. Add the number
of miles you’ve driven since then.
Subtract the stubby birthday candles,
dried wildflowers

real whale sightings, any change
in your pockets. Round up
by the number
of seasons in the sea,

wallflowers in a garden,
bow-ties in a gentleman’s drawer,
minutes since the last thing
you’ll remember in twenty years.

Write it down if you need to
and think of that number.
The number you are thinking of
matches the branching of the trees

the tempo of a xylophone solo
and the spiral in the staircase
in the hallway in a quiet museum.