Five Calculus Haiku

——

Haiku, they say, must
Be of nature at its source.
Sure: Derivative.

——

Concept of Limit:
Get just as close as we please
Except not quite there.

——

A curve is continuous
When it’s chock full
Of unapproachable points.

——

The closer we look
The less we can tell
If anything’s present.

——

Placing infinity
Into a box
Is considered useful.

——

Train Sounds

The freight train tracks run parallel to the river, and River Road is sandwiched between the two. That’s where I spent my adolescent years.

I used to lay in my bed at night and listen to the sounds of the trains, letting them lull me to sleep like the voices of your parents, heard through the wall of your mother’s womb. It was far enough away not to be loud, but would get drawn apart and filtered as the two miles of air selected certain tones: a long, alto howl sculpted to match the form of the intervening air currents; a lot like whale songs and distant coyotes, and punctuated by the battle sounds of giant robots and the rumblings of dinosaurs: box-cars coupling and semis downshifting.

It’s interesting, the sounds we associate with sleep. New parents always wear themselves out trying desperately to keep the house quiet, but a constant wall of sound is much more lulling to a baby. It’s contrasts that keep our minds awake; that’s why sudden alarms do such a good job of waking us up. But if you left your alarm clock on all the time, soon you wouldn’t even notice it.

Now I sleep to the whoosh of the heater and the churning of the dishwasher, and in the wet transitional seasons, thousands of tiny frogs; a multilayer cacophonous chorus trailing off into the wetlands. And always the sound of distant traffic.

I think cars, trucks, and motorcycle engines are the western world’s number one sleep aid, blended into the textures of so many subtle vibrations in the air pressure; referencing, somewhere deep in our memories, the sounds of our prenatal cocoon.