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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