What if the winches coil-up all the rope,
the tall man's toes and fingers riding on
the drums; he, raised, a secretary's M
above the rack-bed - twanged, a fiddle E?
This pain, at this point, asks a substitute.
How often lovers dream their curve is closed:
what if their love lacks focus - if their functions
produce hyperbolae? Or the least variable
be their divisor (zero alone gives aleph)
and the failed asymptote aspire for ever?
Less happy than the recusant, they lie
unbound indeed, yet never to know limits
but those of their too-mortal graph; the pain
eased by no pawl-slip, ended by no burning,
because no substitute is possible.