Products of Scientific Notation

This poem won Peoples Choice in 2-Day Poem Contest 2020

                                                        You remember learning the rules—
for how many figures get to stay on the page. How else to represent an object

when you aren’t one—when the only way to hold something strung out
is to label it, assign value, divide into parts.

                                                                      Another male doctor
writes you a prescription for the lethargy that won’t stay       gone,

furthering your hypothesis that everything only gets less precise
the more you try to understand.

                                                          Sometimes your lungs get stuck,
you say by way of explanation. Sometimes your chest is a mouth

sunk in vinegar, you say about the eggplant, goose fruit,
violet purple brown scars

fading into half smiles on your upper thighs. The doctor checks the box for

                                                                Objects that are too difficult
to express are turned over, paraphrased and approximated,

blooming less and less recognizable
until the final result is a halo of the original.

                                                           Even the octothorpe grew out of
something else. An eight-sided coin folding itself in half, shedding its carapace

until what remains is a set of crosses with holes for
eyes, like symbols in a paperback claiming to offer something you need.

                                                           You worry you’ve forgotten how
to grow, instead of bootlegging new versions of yourself.

You drag every indistinguishable shape,
unresolved muscle, peristeronic thought into the bin

and try your best to write over them, replace them with words.
Your body becoming a copy of a copy of

a copy.