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Page 197

This book has 256 pages -- 60 more to fill.
256 is 16 x 16, which is neat, because
I've always liked 16, 4 x 4 (and I was born
on April 4, 1942: 4/4/42), two to the fourth
power, and what an odd even number
4 is, 4-square, sturdy, stable,
the four corners of the earth fending off
seven seas, full sounding "four" -- fower,
almost a flower, as filling as flour,
a mouthful forever (unlike the shrill and lemony
"seven seas").

And yet, 4 balances its hefty, cornered mass
on one skinny leg, a wind-swollen sail
on its straining mast. But I must remember
that I live in an alpha-numerophobic society,
in which most non-children refuse to see
that numbers and letters are persons
just like you and number one (that is, me,
not piss).

It's awfully hard, these days, for a number
(14, for example) or letter (say, G) to find
a good job, housing in a nice neighborhood
or legal recourse. Someone is always doing
a number on you. Even in liberal Michigan,
(not the actual state), a young woman who married
the letter T received hate mail, had bricks thrown
through her windows, had crosses (or T's) burned
in her front yard -- after two weeks of terror,
she left Michigan to start over in Utah (not
the actual state).

Many numbers and characters have had to
"pass" as human in order to live among us.
It is touching to hear our neighbor, 15,386,205,
explain to her children why they can't take
swimming lessons with their friends...

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