top of page
Copy of Full Mood logo (1200 × 1200 px)-3.png

December 7, 2023

Expression ÷ Unknown - Argument =

Jessica Coles

When I learn that doctors can use calculus to maximize

blood flow in patients, I wonder what else

my spouse hasn’t told me about practical applications

of math. Did he know that lavender is

an infinitesimal scent, a curve under the curve of

memory, a waft of mothers and clean sheets?

Though not my mother or my sheets, or even

his mother and his sheets. But a cotton blend

of silence, a slip into hollows where snaking equations

have never nested comfortably. Who said lavender

should belong to mothers when it only makes

my spouse turn away and sneeze?

If I knew how to cut through a knot of scented cotton, could he

tell me what’s catastrophic about surreal numbers, and how

many errors we introduce when converting catastrophes to

the number of small pebbles I can hold

between my teeth and gums? Would he tell me

to leap into my own heart and ignore the composition

of our children? Surely, he could teach me to balance all

the unspent kisses (close to zero but never zero) swooping

the months of my untouchability down to the x axis

of a graph with no labels. I wonder if every problem roots

in this solution: it all belongs if you avoid continuity.

We can’t blame a single branch of mathematics

for the ways I refuse to understand familial statistics

and improbabilities.


JESSICA COLES (she/her) is a poet from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Treaty 6), where she lives with her family and a judgmental tuxedo cat named Miss Bennet. She is an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets and co-chair of its Parenting Poets Committee. Her work has appeared in Prairie Fire, Moist Poetry Journal, Capsule Stories, Full Mood Mag, EcoTheo Review, Stone Circle Review, LCP - Fresh Voices/Poetry Pause, CV2, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, unless you’re willing to evaporate, is available through Prairie Vixen Press ( Twitter: @milkcratejess; Bluesky:

bottom of page