In our base-ten system, the squiggles
Look like a pair of threes, but they mean
Eleven threes, nine implicit, invisibly known.
What's hiding in there? All the Vedic deities,
All the miracles of Jesus, all the degrees
Of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, the Star of David,
The numerical equivalent of Hebrew amen,
Al Ghazali's universal age in Heaven.
Forget all of them. Where were any of them
Thirty-three centuries gone? Nonexistent.
Somewhere in Sumeria, maybe, someone
Had noticed something mystical, symmetrical
About that number, but then again, maybe not.
Can we assume the number has always been
There, regardless of notation or our awareness
Of integers that cannot be expressed as sum
Of different triangular numbers? The protons
In arsenic atoms, the bones in the average spine,
Counting the coccyx, have been around
Long enough to suggest this number
Thirty three is itself, in some sense, ancient,
Intrinsic to our universe. I don't know
How, though, and I don't trust myself.
Counting anything relies on assumptions
That similar things have repeated something
The same. What? Thirty three boxes of light
Are each different, different from each other,
Different from themselves, within themselves,
Different when opening, when open, when shut
Tightly on themselves and sinking into retrospect.
What does a year of a life by those lights
Add to a chain of such demarcations,
Folding their exquisite lenses in to begin again?