Ode to Seven

List all the coincidences that you can remember:

days in a week, pillars of wisdom, lucky dice, the seven

deadly sins, original planets, seas, world wonders.

Mathematicians, seeking a perfectly random deck, fathered

the rule of seven card shuffles, also the number of times

Levitical priests sprinkled blood from the red heifer's body.

I know — I'm not the first to marvel at seven's large body

of work. Jews, Christians, and trivia experts commit to memory

how Jericho landed in Joshua's hands once he circled it seven times,

how God's first line, which begins In the beginning , is seven

simple Hebrew words, and there: genesis. Why did our Father

mark the world with this number? Christians continue to wonder.

And Pythagoreans, eating numbers instead of bread, wondering

about every digit, gave them all gendered bodies,

and called seven perfect . Same with numerology. Your father

might score Marilyn Monroe a ten , but if he remembered

how to turn names into numbers, he'd know she equals seven ,

a perfect Pythagorean male. Seven can turn on us. The time

in years for the devil's contract to conclude and the number of times

you sign your name both equal seven. Not just for wonders,

seven also means omens, evil — seven seals, seven

plagues, seven hells. Here's one that haunts me: Our bodies

need seven years to regenerate all their cells. I remember

learning this — and loving to hear it — from my doctor, my father.

It demonstrated immortality in multiples of seven. My father's

body ended that math just seven years ago. Those " times

tables, " so steady, don't just add — they subtract. I can't remember

if his cologne was sandalwood or citrus, and about his eyes, I wonder ...

It doesn't matter. This year, he'd have an entirely new body

anyway. Grief wails the first year, but by the seventh,

it whispers. The quiet is maddening. Into prime seven's

slender leg, on which like a stiff crane it stands, my father

slips. Into its wholeness, into the whole dark (and light) body

of the world which builds anew in seven days. How much time

does a body need to lose all that it had? The mind can wonder

all it wants, but the body has memory, and new cells don't remember

what they never knew. Father: I'm sorry. I don't remember

the precise span of your arms around my body. In another seven

years' time, what other of your wonders will I lose?

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