Fib

Last night I saw Lincoln. This morning I cannot help but think of the horrors this country has wrought upon so many men, women, and children.  Lincoln had so much to overcome. And we have so much more to do.

POEM:
Fib

We,
one
nation
under gourd,
I mean ground, I mean
over, over the rainbow, o-

Pen the door and write the windows, sing the sky and play

the clouds up and down and in and out between the sheets and souls of all before, after,

intertwined as wisps of memory that snake in and curl like spirals of smoke we can never quite get rid of no matter how much we want

to pretend things didn’t happen; it’s all there, pungent and yellow under our fingernails, black lines of dirt settled in to the cracks of our palms, blood red in the whites of our eyes as we tie a ribbon around the old oak tree.

ELEMENT:
Fibonacci Sequence

Leonardo of Pisa, or Fibonacci as he came to be known, wrote a book in 1202 entitled Liber abaci (The Book of the Abacus). In it he discussed the breeding patterns of rabbits. From this discussion and the pattern that he explained, we have what is known as the Fibonacci sequence of numbers that describes a certain pattern of growth, a sequence found in nature.

Fibonacci pattern shown in a sunflower

The first two digits of the pattern are 0 and 1. The following digit is always the sum of the previous two. Therefore, the third number would be 1 (0+1), the fourth 2 (1+1), the fifth number 3 (2+1), the sixth number in the sequence is 5 (3 + 2) so that the pattern appears as 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, and so on and so on.

To me, what is amazing about the sequence isn’t its mathematics  (although that is pretty amazing as it is connected with, among other things I don’t understand, Pascal’s triangle, Euclid’s algorithm, and the golden ratio or ϕ). To me, what is amazing about the Fibonacci sequence is the visual expression of it in nature, including in the human body. As Lori Bailey Cunningham explains in her book, The Mandala, “to see an example of the ratio right now, just look at your hands. The lengths of the bones in your hands relate to the ratios in the first four numbers of the Fibonacci sequence” (178).  And that’s just the start of it. We’ve all seen Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing “Vitruvian Man” that he made over 500 years ago.

Proportions according to Fibonacci sequence

The proportions of this ideal man are based on geometry involving the Fibonacci sequence. In addition to examples from the proportions of our bodies, the Fibonacci sequence appears in many flowers such as sunflowers, dahlias, and chamomile as well as many fruits such as artichoke, pineapple and pinecones, and in other instances as diverse as the stems of trees, seashells, and hurricanes.

Fibonacci pattern shown in Hurricane Sandy

So what does this have to do with poetry? Believe it or not, the Fibonacci poem, or “Fib” is now an actual style of poem with a significant following. Websites, including the one below in “Related Links” have been created for the sole purpose of sharing Fibs. In these poems, the first six numbers in the sequence, less the starting point of zero (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8), are each given a syllable count in a line. This results in a compressed haiku-like poem of six lines with a total of 20 syllables.  Explore Muse Pie Press and you’ll see some spectacular little poems.

Fibonacci pattern in a seashell

But it’s also fun to push it a little further. Where does the poem lead when another line of 13 syllables is added, and then an additional sequence of 24 syllables, and then 55 syllables? Suddenly there are connections everywhere.

Related Links (Poems, Places, Books, Videos, Events, etc.):
Fibonacci poems (Muse Pie Press)
The Mandala Book by Lori Bailey Cunningham – a great book about patterns in nature, all connected to the mandala, “an integrated structure organized around a unifying structure.”
Lincoln Movie: