# innumerable ones

How to count? Begin with one, or *n* + 1

where *n* is the number of ants in a colony,

and 1 is you looking over your own shoulder,

looking into the earth, driving a stick down

into the mound like a gifted chimp, pulling it out

to count the inscrutable bodies, huge headed

warriors sawing the wood. Where n is bacteria

and 1 is your colon, the wealth of *E. coli*

colonizing and shifting upriver, where n

is the burger you ate yesterday and 1 is you

heaving into the sink and falling back

wracked with fever. Where n is brine shrimp

and 1 the stink they make on a hot day,

the light above the Great Salt Lake gone flat

and gauzy. Where *n* is the caribou cresting

across the Porcupine in the Yukon and *n*²

the mosquitoes that blind them—eyes jammy

with crushed bodies—and drive them mad.

Where 1 is the Cessna and the rifle,

where 1 is the bullet and the carcass

resting on the tundra’s mossy sponge.

**Jeffrey Thomson**

Innumerable Ones *first appeared in* Indiana Review.