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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 11: January 2022
Poem: 171 words
By Charles D. Tarlton

Edging Along the Sand

For Clare MacQueen
Hence the number of grains of sand which could be contained in a sphere of the size of our “universe” is less than 1,000 units of the seventh order of numbers [or 1051].
—Archimedes, The Sand Reckoner*
What you see of the sea from here 
is blue, everyone says, but I focus 
on the muddier stuff, the gray, 
and the way the slow clouds 
stand down, as if uncertain claims. 
If you look, the water is barely 
distinct from the sky, which is so blue. 
No one comes to the shore indifferently, 
as if it were the Main Street shops 
or a vague meandering Sunday drive; 
people at the shore, 
		   wandering along 
the sand are looking for something. 
The infinite as the far horizon 
intimates the air’s weird saltiness. 
Where does it come from, where 
does it go? The living thought looking 
for configuration, for a form, 
settles on singing 
		 songs to make its own 
way. It’s the singing itself keeps 
the story at bay, it’s like whistling. 



*Publisher’s Note:

Epigraph is quoted from The Sand-Reckoner of Archimedes translated by Thomas L. Heath (original publication: Cambridge University Press, 1897), the text of which is available at:

(Link retrieved on 5 December 2021.)

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