When I Can’t Sleep I Think About Numbers

my son asked me before bed how much the ocean weighs
and as I laid awake listening to the house creak
the sound reminded me of a ship at sea
even though
I’ve never been on a ship at sea

I list
all the things culture submerges us in:

the listing vessel
barnacled wood
jellyfished waves
waving sea turtles
the figure of the octopus
with its three hearts and nine brains

we know so well they are inside of us
what could we do with that
measure of being

my son knows all about the endowments of octopuses
lists them off at bedtime

he does not know about leeches
and their thirty-two brains
nine pairs of testes
not yet

so much of this world is waiting for him to enjoy
but right now he wants to know how much it weighs

and I can’t sleep so I think about numbers
the weight of a cubic foot of water
the vastness of the imperial and metric seas

estimate all the things I do not know:

the tons of our garbage islands
the number of sea turtles
how heavy they are at age fifty
if they live that long with all the trash
the collective weight of the octopuses
and their hearts and brains

figure the measures
measure the figures

of three sextillion pounds

fumble on my phone
google everything

I turn my face to the wall, board
the listing ship of sleep
and sleep

Edie Meade is a writer, artist, and mother of four in Huntington, West Virginia. She is passionate about literacy and collects books like they’re going out of style. Say hi on Twitter @ediemeade or https://ediemeade.com/.

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