Two times two has become five, he said with some concern.
Really? When did that happen?
Yesterday afternoon it began, and by night was fully evident.
With growing alarm he noted, now two times three is unpredictable.
Perhaps the whole two-times system has become infected
and may fail.
The family rallied round, faces grave,
hoping for the best, but fearing the worst:
Because twice-two had slipped, now two times three, four, and five
were endangered, even seven and beyond!
What caused it? A hitherto unknown flaw in two’s basic structure?
Was it contagious? Maliciously sent? An unsuspected accident?
Where would it stop?
Would all be lost?
It seemed an unquellable collapse, colossal in damage.
Was there no answer, no mathematical
repair, somewhere, anywhere? A wizard
who could (at unfathomable cost) somehow wrench those ailing twos
back into their accustomed spots, and anchor them securely?
Oh, did such a one exist?
And then, spoke a child:
TWO TIMES TWO EQUALS FOUR. IT NEVER WAS FIVE.
And suddenly, anxious chaos cleared as darkened sky lit by sudden ray.
Two times two equals four?
Two times two equals four.
TWO TIMES TWO EQUALS FOUR!
No unpredicatability, no infection, no colossal failure.
Just reliable truth.
—Anna Lisa Kronman
(This poem came to me one early morning in a quiet listening time, pretty much as it appears here. It was published in the July 19, 2010 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.)