We couldn't start until every student had a test,
But while Mrs. Bach finished passing them out
We stared down through the paper at the questions,
So that, when she said, tiredly, as if she had little faith
In us, "Begin," we were already ready to answer
The first few, rattling them off the way we were made
To recite an aunt's phone number we were made
To remember. It grew harder the farther we got,
The numbers growing larger, while Mrs. Bach paced,
She with the composer's name, who had allowed
The rumor that he was an ancestor to fester.
She was stricter than our beloved Mrs. Bicker,
Left behind with the simple math of third grade.
We were in fourth now. The night before,
We had practiced our multiplication tables
At our kitchen tables, the tablecloth folded back.
Had we taken rubbings of the wood, old figures
Would have floated up through the paper,
Just the sums. Jesus was a multiplier, too.
The multitudes came to hear him speak of the Kingdom
Of Heaven but around noon found themselves
Growing hungry. Impatient with their weakness,
He took five loaves and two fish and multiplying
Them by themselves made them infinite.
Thus were the multitudes fed. Pencils down,
Mrs. Bach said. Turn your tests over. And as
She came around collecting them we stared
Down through the paper again at our answers,
The wrong ones glaring back at us
Like the Pharisees who took
The infinite into their bodies
But still did not believe.