augury doggerel

Thursday, August 10, 2006

She Loves Me...

If you were to count the whorls of flowerets on the head of a sunflower — but you wouldn't. I wouldn't. Not now.

But if at another time we counted, sunwise and widdershins, the leftwise and rightwise whorls of yellow flowerets.

While the bees walked around.

We would count fifty-five this way and thirty-four the other, or eighty-nine this way and fifty-five the other, or some other consecutive pair of integers in the series 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, 4181, 6765, 10946, …

This is because the first sunflower was carved and cast by Leonardo da Pisa, Leonardo Pisano, Leonardo Bigollo, Leonardo Fibonacci, a certain 13th century Italian florist and tinkerer. Fibonacci, it is supposed, must have been the son of a man named Bonacci. Or the son of good fortune.

If Fibonacci was the son of a man named Bonacci and if Fibonacci had had a son in turn, the son's son might have been called Fifibonacci, the son of the son of Bonacci, or simple Fifi, for children are cruel, and the series might have ended right there.

By Henry Gibson.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Looking Up

Sunflowers reduce me: I am a common pest among the stalks. Bumblebees that bow other flowers walk in twos and threes around the yellow face of a sunflower. I stand beneath one hanging head and watch a bumble work the circle. In up to its thighs, dusty as a miller's pony, grazing in summer, it kicks up yellow pollen that drifts down into my eyes.