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The Mathematical Equation for Isolation

by Cat Dixon

The Mathematical Equation for Isolation​



When you divide partners,

each stands alone. The remainder

must be multiplied

and both sides of the equation

should equal mother and father.

Add new unfamiliar variables,

such as the father’s WV bride

and the blonde, too young, too thin

boy the mother discovered in the prairie.




When you expand both sides

of the equation, one variable

must drop off the side

of the page. See how it slides

to the edge. See how it flips

on its head and slips away

before the pencil lead can scratch—

the daughter’s arms sliced

pink with broken glass.




When you add x and y and subtract

license and respect, a negative

integer is the result. The final

formula is solved despite

the IV, parched mouth, dim light,

alone in a cold bed.  

cat dixon photo.JPG

Cat Dixon

Cat Dixon is the author of EVA and TOO HEAVY TO CARRY (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2016, 2014) and her chapbook, THE BOOK OF LEVINSON, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. She teaches creative writing at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. She has work (co-written with Trent Walters) in They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press, 2018).  Twitter: @DixonCat

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