Ron Riekki
You Two



taught math.

He loved math

more than anything.

When he was about eight-years-old

or thirteen, somewhere around there, I forget the age,

he came home to find his mother dead. She drank herself to death. He thought she was asleep.

She would sometimes pass out on the kitchen floor, but this time there was no breathing. He didn't understand though, so he dragged her to the bedroom

and tucked her in. But he could tell there was something wrong this time. The nightmares started—scraped forearms, a head toppled off, no-eyed faces, and himself, a captive of islands, of untrustworthy ground, of the America of guns;

panic attacks at fifteen, he turned to golden ratios and Perrin numbers, the relaxation of Vogel's model, found salvation in weaving the number 257 in pen on his arm over and over so that the 2 and 5 connected, the 5 and 7 connected. Somehow he and my mother connected, loved to drink Coke and eat oranges while

overlooking the lake at Al Quaal. For her, he calculated the number of miles they were from Venus; looking at stars, he explained the laws of Keplerian dynamics. The marshmallow night. The slices of lean shadows. The half-remedy of love. Ever since he's kept a journal of the number of times my mother has kissed him—twenty-six thousand five hundred eighty-four. The first time he said, "Do you like the taste of us?" He's eighty-eight now, his birthday in one month. I ask my mother if he'll ever say he loves me. He'll do it before he dies. So much weight on the number one.