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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 9: August 2021
Poem: 134 words [R]
By Diane Thiel

Counting Two

Suddenly my son can count—
One. Twooo! 
His one a calm, tame number. 
His two a wild creature, 
the vowel stretching limbs, 
traveling continents, oceans 
taking on the world, in its primordial twos. 

Three, four, five? my practical parent self suggests. 
One, he answers authoritatively, 
and then, again, the wildly gestured Twooo! 

One. Twooo! 
He counts the flock of birds. 
One. Twooo! 
The cars on a passing train. 
One. Twooo! 
A march of ants. Drops of desert rain. 

At night, exhausted from his exponential math, 
his head against my heart, 
counting beats perhaps 
to fall asleep, 
I fall with him, 
thinking of his Twooo! his wildly gesturing hand, 
showing me how well he understands—
my little son—
that two is so much more, 
twice as much in fact, 
infinitely more 
than one. 


—From the poet’s forthcoming book, Questions From Outer Space, and presented previously at the National Book Festival (29 September 2007); appears here with her permission.

Diane Thiel
Issue 9, August 2021

is the author of ten books of poetry and nonfiction, including Echolocations and Resistance Fantasies. Her new book of poetry, Questions from Outer Space, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Thiel’s work has appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The Hudson Review, Rattle, and the Sewanee Review, and is re-printed in more than sixty major anthologies. Her awards include a PEN award, the Robinson Jeffers Award, the Robert Frost Award, the Nicholas Roerich Award, and an NEA Award, and she was a Fulbright Scholar.

Thiel received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Brown University and is Professor of English and Associate Chair at the University of New Mexico. She has traveled and lived in Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia, working on literary and environmental projects.

More information, including readings and lectures, may be found at her website: www.dianethiel.net

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

The Minefield by Diane Thiel, first published in Best American Poetry 1999 and reprinted numerous times, including in KYSO Flash (Issue 6, Fall 2016)

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