Jessy Randall

Virginia Apgar (1909-1974)

For the first twenty years I numbed them:
men, women, and children.
Because of me, they felt nothing.
They were grateful, but not grateful enough.
I was invisible to them.

For the second twenty years
they hung on my numbers.
The mothers and fathers. I scored
the newly born.
Is My Baby All Right?
The title of my book
and the question they all had for me,
desperate and panicked in the delivery room.

They turned to my calculations
with hope and fear in equal amounts,
so much hope and so much fear
it almost capsized them.
My numbers at last
had weight. My name became
known to every parent for at least one day.
My numbers–their babies’ numbers–
more important than anything else in the world.



Hilda Geiringer von Mises (1893-1973)

Hilda Geiringer von Mises was interested in
the theory of vibrations
and the problems of plasticity.

She worked in Berlin until Hitler’s math
required all Jewish academics
to lose their positions. Try graphing that.

With her daughter, she escaped to Brussels.
It’s quaint to imagine her work sustained her.
There’s no way to know.

A sweet thought, though: vibrating plastic
may not retain its shape, but
it does not shatter.



Ellen Amanda Hayes (1851-1930)

The problems of Ellen Hayes:
1. She doesn’t go to church.
2. She is “strong-willed.”
3. She wears thick-soled shoes and skirts
          with too many pockets.
4. She is very, very good at math.
5. She is a socialist.
6. Her exam questions are too hard.



Jessy Randall's poems, comics, and other things have appeared in Poetry, McSweeney's, and The Best American Experimental Writing. Pleiades Press has just published How to Tell If You Are Human, a collection of her diagram poems. She is a librarian at Colorado College and her website is JessyRandall.