The Science of Words

By Sasha Temerte

As I wait for my tea in the dimly lit café, I smuggle my notebook out from beneath the table. I scratch the last word of the stanza onto the page and frown at the ink. I don’t feel it in my heart, and I know my readers won’t either. Flipping the sheet over, I begin the poem again, letting the words take over. The syllables roll like marbles across a hardwood floor. I slow down the rhythm, build to a crescendo of lines, and let the message beg for an encore. This time, my emotions leap.

When the mug runs dry, I use my teaspoon to trace the harvest moon stains collected at the bottom. The completed poem fades from my memory, and I daydream about circles, like the rings in my cup. I remember that mathematicians discovered how to turn a sphere inside-out, and my mind trips over itself as it scrambles to imagine how. I wonder what would happen if I were turned inside-out as well. What would I be made of? I imagine numbers and words would tumble out of my being.

These numbers and words are forbidden lovers that found home in my body. As they stumble from my heart, they would twirl on their axes until they topple to the ground and pool into a metaphor. Ink flows through my veins, and even without a pen, ideas surge from my fingertips. To me, words in a sentence are more than beads I string together with a pen. They’re vehicles for stories that elicit powerful emotions, raise awareness, inspire generations, and save lives.

On the contrary, numbers provide me with the logic to back these messages. Mathematics is the poetry of STEM, with theoretical proofs being soliloquies. It is the code of our everyday existence; an equation defines every curve on every object. However, it is up to us to bring meaning to those numbers in our lives—to take those lines and build them into something beautiful.

Since the day I strolled into middle school, I’ve been forced to choose between numbers and words. But when you’ve been taught that the celebrated Renaissance was a rebirth of art and science—a time when man was encouraged to be well-versed in both mathematics and the paintbrush—it’s quite perplexing to then be told you’re supposed to choose just one.

A delicate dichotomy between STEM and the humanities seems impossible (God forbid I write poetry about perpetual motion machines). But in reality, the chasm between math class and English class is no more than a mere crevice, and by intermixing their elements, I can find narratives in every equation. With each bridge I build between these fissures, a new land of possibility unfurls before me. For instance, my relationship with theories and verse has taught me to dance gracefully with politics. While weaving code together in Java class, I weighed the pros and cons of the Electoral College. Once I ran the program, the jigsaw pieces fell into place, and my opinions melted into a stance. Statistics delivered the facts, but humanity delivered the stories behind them. I pounce on opportunities to explore such notions in every situation, chasing down the sparks of curiosity that electrify my mind.

I redirect my attention to the notebook before me. Swiftly flipping through pages of poetry, experiments, and business ideas, I search for a blank page. I drift over to the counter to order another cup—green tea, this time—and return to the couch to begin drafting plans of action. Armed with a notebook and diverse passion, I can intertwine the words and numbers inside me with my dreams.

All I need is a page and a pen.

With this, I can build something beautiful.

Sasha Temerte is a writer, businesswoman, and avid explorer who chases to understand humanity and the world around her. After publishing her poetry debut, she expanded her horizons to prose.

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