with a line from Thich Nhat Hanh

I’m standing in front of an eight-year-old boy who’s just asked me to explain a Mobius Strip.
So, I reach for a piece of paper, fold it in half lengthwise,
and again
and then again until it itself becomes a strip.
I give it a twist, connect the ends, “You see
it’s like a circle, but with a twist, well, a half twist actually. It’s thought to be a one-sided figure. Go ahead, drag your finger along it.”

Could this go on forever? I mean, if I keep moving my finger forward. . .
He stops, studies the shape.
“But not forward, not really forward because my finger always gets caught in that same twist, that same –Ow!”
A paper cut.   
The boy looks up at me, eyes too old for his age,
“The yucky’s a Mobius strip.”

“The yucky,” that’s what he calls it.
Depression. Rage. Anxiety.  All those things we try to outsmart or outdo.
I picture myself running along this strip, towards the twist, some change on the horizon,
just to be tricked and turned around, to find myself in the exact place in which I started,
I look at the boy and I say “Yes,
the yucky can be a Mobius strip.”

So, buy a book on astronomy; learn physics of anxiety.
If T=O, and the big crunch has been discarded
will the universe expand forever?

And if the highest levels of entropy hide on its outskirts,
if the stars themselves are not stationary and our galaxy is ruled by chaos
what hope is there for an 8-year-old boy to overcome panic attacks?
Or, to keep a 30-something from opening the box?
I don’t tell him this, mostly cause the cat is dead,
I don’t know if I killed it, hell
Schrödinger doesn’t have the answer,
but it is what it is:
a dead cat.

In the time it takes light to travel from you to me, person can be broken.

But not him. No. I’ll teach him more topology;
I’ll teach him how to twist and bend, to contort himself beyond one side one perspective.
I’ll teach him how to accept Band-Aids and crutches,
because topology leaves no room for breaking and therefore he’ll never need any glue.

I’ll tell him listen: learn Buddhism. Learn how everything is connected and learn where you fit in.
Understand the butterfly effect.
Learn to accept and forgive others, harder yet forgive yourself.
You are not as important as you think you are.
You are more precious than you will ever know.
Nobody has the answers. Everything is observation.
But even if reality is nothing more perception, then open your eyes perceive all that you can.
There are theories of giants, shoulders to stand on, and if you need it for balance, I’ll be your crutch.
Learn how to learn, that it is what it is, but most importantly learn how to breathe
– you are alive.

DANIELLE (GONCALVES) FONTAINE received her MFA in 2012 from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and is currently a creative writing instructor for their OLLI program. Her poems have earned honorable mentions in both the Writer’s Digest and the Academy of American Poets contests and, as a finalist, her poem “Bottle” appears in the Modern Grimmoire Anthology. Her work can also be found on NPR’s “Here and Now” website as well as in Prick of the Spindle, Front Range, Juked Poetry, and others.