OOOO

by Nick Flynn

Euclid had what we now call horror
of the infinite, that something—
anything—could simply go on &
on. The years I lived in bars were
like that (unbounded, indefinite), but
I feared more the me outside those
walls. Now I’m back—a woman
on the stool beside me smiles. I’m
not drinking, just waiting for some
takeout, wearing my shirt with infinity
(an 8 asleep on its side) stitched on-
to the back. As the woman returns
from the john, she runs a finger along
my shoulder & says, I like your
infinity shirt. She then shows me
her inner forearm, a tattoo that looks
like four Os laid beside each other—
OOOO—the middle two overlapping.
A double infinity, she whispers, as if
it were a car waiting outside. That’s
a lot of infinity, I offer, but I wish I’d
asked what it means, to have twice
as much of what is already terrifying.

Published on November 16, 2022

First published in Harvard Review 59.

2022-11-16T12:01:55-04:00