Once Upon an Accountant

Once upon a time
an accountant there was
who numbers loved

And every day
numbers flew in
and numbers floated away
and days were numbers
and also gloves and boots and
numbers counted the noodles

in his soup as he ate it

Until one day began
the numbers to slip
their shapes, to stand
up off their stools, to spool
into nests of number
and start to nap

And grew afraid the accountant
and strung up by elbows
the numbers and
to their chairs
he tied them with garden
twine and wire

And could not move
the numbers now or wave
or cartwheel their dance,
their fountaining over
each other all over, forgot,
the way they rose to the top
and tumbled down
began to be a dream

Until at last sneaked out
the accountant from his corner
to cut with nail scissors
the bonds, to filch
from the window an inch of air
to nudge a number, struggling,
to the sill and watch it, gasping,

toss itself out over into
the hedge. And then its brother.
And then its mother. And then
its son. Each number went.
Except for one.

And since that day ever
holds he the zero
to himself, at center chest,
hand over its open mouth
so hear he cannot
the tiny ringing cry: alone,
alone, alone,