In the classroom, standing in front of her blank-face students, the deaf mathematician loses her train of thought. In doing so, she thinks of this idiom, how false it is that thought follows a path like the tracks of a train. Or maybe not; train tracks split and meet again later, some tracks run parallel and never meet. And tracks end abruptly, are left unfinished or are abandoned and grown over with brush, get buried with time.
She puts her hand to her forehead to block the light and scans the room. How many of them have walked tracks at night, put toe to heel on the raised metal, felt sound coming through the ties? It is a feeling that resides in that twilight space of language somewhere between a shudder and a shake.
I’m sorry, the deaf mathematician signs and her students blink blankly. Where were we?