In_straight_lines

1 November 2017

It’s the shortest distance between two points –
a straight line.
Running from here to there
connecting a beginning and an end
with every point between.
Short or long, thick or thin
in, some might say, the very opposite of poetry.

When the ends of straight lines meet,
first an angle, then shapes with sides appear –
like triangles and squares, and all sorts of polyhedrons.
Straight lines thus pair naturally
with geometry, and with material constructions –
they map dimensions, provide a grid
and in a curved world, they get things done.

Straight lines shape the basics of mathematics
by crossing at perpendiculars to add up
and at diagonals to multiply.
Straddled by two dots, they diminish, by division.
Two straight lines, lying side by side, signal equals,
whereas one straight line in the middle
simply subtracts.

If a straight line slopes, there’s a delta,
but if the loose end turns in space-time
a circle will appear, or a wheel, or an orbit –
those two ends will never meet.
Such movement is always relative.

Straight lines ready the blank page
capitalise the alphabet
make a dash for meaning
and turn a full stop into an exclamation.
They pitch music, on staves and leger lines.
Whichever way you look at it,
they shape a poem.

Sometimes, straight lines reveal themselves –
as the crow flies
at the journey’s end
with the spirit level,
or as those magical horizons
between the deep blue sea and the wide blue sky –
or in the mind’s eye,
as that invisible axis
around which the world spins.

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