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A Journal for and by the Readers of C.J. Cherryh
“The number of persons in a polite sentence isn’t by head count, it’s by calculations of rank plus real number.”
 --- Invader, C.J. Cherryh

“You say that two at Conway dwell, 
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven! I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be.” 
--- We Are Seven, William Wordsworth 

Felicitous Ghosts
By Ansikalden
Felicitous numbers always visit my mind
And that’s what I saw in this lay
Where Wordsworth discussed with a quick little girl
“How many siblings, can you say?”

Felicitous seven she insisted with flare
But he wouldn’t accept what she said
She played in the graveyard with quiet delight
Her brother and sister were dead

Felicitous numbers, always know what they are
Even when Fortune doesn’t play fair
And Chance comes to haunt you with twos and fours
Use a divisible with care

The little maid joined the absent and present. 
To sustain an acceptable set
As if knowing an atevi counter’s secret
A problem for Wordsworth, you bet!

How would this Romantic poet have coped?
With the core of atevi etiquette
Lacking that sense of arrangement 
To create an acceptable set

Because atevi add so fast in their minds.
It’d be hard for the poet to swallow
Such a race of mathematical talents
Few humans could ever follow

Though a genius in language composition
Would he know the right Ragi noun?
To sit among atevi nobles for tea
Counting wrong once and he’d go down

With no way to escape strict kabiu rules
And traditions that encumber
Closely watched by the Bu-javid dignitaries
Quick to suspect human numbers

It would have been smart to learn from that child
Who included her dead siblings’ ghosts
When facing an alien way of thinking
And dealing with his atevi hosts

Polite are the numbers that don’t add even
It’d be up to the poet to rate
Who are simply added and who are really there
Never take a statement on fate

When the grownups are counting the invisible ones
And to every atevi child
Proof of their imaginary companions
Sure to make the poet riled

Felicitous numbers, most important of all
Unlucky settings must be improved
The lesson for Wordsworth to always remember:
A divisible must be removed

Felicitous numbers are what matter the most
Know when to add and when to subtract
Calculate fast and conjure up a ghost
Don’t leave a divisible intact


"Atevi Ghost" by Ansikalden
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