‘What are the square roots of minus seven?’ the jackdaw asks.
He laughs at my blank stare, says, ‘Try minus four.’
For me that works no better. Of the thankless tasks
he foists on me, this will have been the one that wore
my patience out. I threw my pencil, swore
that there’d be blackbirds on the menu, not the singers,
but the corvid sort, unless he stopped his zingers
about my weak mathematics. ‘Blackbird pie!’
I shouted. ‘No need to get your trousers in the wringers,’
he cawed. ‘It’s time I taught you about i.’
‘You should say IS the square root,’ my inner pedant snarled,
‘and I as a single letter is capitalised,
and anyway “i” should be “me”. Don’t tell me merle
is de rigueur in pie. A euthanised
jackdaw can be as juicy. Don’t act surprised.’
‘My takenabackness,’ the bird said, ‘comes from you.
Imaginary numbers are nothing new.
The useful “i” – small letter – is the square of negative one.’
He pecked at my iWatch meaningfully and flew
away and left me ignorant and blue.
P.S. The jackdaw, having flown away at the end of our get-together described above, came back and deposited the above screenshot and this link on my desk http://bit.ly/2cZi7oz