American Koan

Karl Elder

Call it
the square root of infinity
known only to a coterie
of high school Asian-Americans
as it sweeps through them
at science fairs
like energy
through an interminable row
of dominoes.

You and I, poets,
stand outside the circle.

Having pursued it artfully
all our lives,
we can almost taste it,
so long has it been
on the tip of our tongues,
our envy gone,
if only the body of our work
contained somewhere between
one less
and one more line.