The word of the day for November 23, 2012: SQUARE

As the adage goes, “there are two sides to every story.” This one has four.

A square is rare in nature. Through the airplane window at 30,000 feet, rivers snake across the landscape as meandering peaks fork through the limestone. The only visible squares or perfectly straight lines are are meticulously plotted cornfields and manmade structures:

Squares are all around us. We live inside their conformity. We use them to carry bits of our lives in. Squares on top of squares paint our cities geometrical. Rectangles and rhombuses. Circles and ellipses wish they were squares, but that honor is reserved for only those whose length and breadth.

There are squares of the geometric sort, as well as relationships that could do with more equal sides:

All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Subsets and supersets. A = B, but B =/= A.

I don’t know how to handle you sometimes. Math was never my strong suit.

Square can describe where you look someone in the eye to lay down the law, or how one might prepare to punch another square in the face:

They squared off, circled each other, and then, in a blinding instant, one of them threw the first punch. It was like lightning, and the blood that came spurting out of his opponent’s nose…
[Iam Me]

hbcarbonleaf transports us to the square pegs and round holes of childhood:

Circle. Triangle. Oval. Rectangle. His pudgy hands slid the plastic shapes across the toy’s surface, searching for a fit. His mother watched patiently as he repeatedly slammed each shape in impatience.

A square can be a place where we’re reminded of how in love we are:

Walking through the Square after the worst concert either of us had ever been to, I realized the importance of a companion who could turn something dreadful into one of the most enjoyable nights of your life.

or where we receive clandestine messages:

She sat in the square by herself watching the pigeons peck at the ground. A man sat next to her. He leaned over and whispered “The sun shines on Africa”. He got up and left, she knew what to do.

or make you do-si-do:

A square is many things. It’s a shape. It’s a special kins of rectangle. It’s a kind of person. It’s even a kind of dance.

And most know of square roots, but few have pondered a square’s roots:

What is a square’s roots? I suppose it could be argued that a square’s roots are wherever that particular square grew up as a child.

or suspect circle people:

I think he is a square
Said the circle girl to the circle boy
He just doesn’t know it
But everyone thought she was a square—
the circle girl who was talking to the circle boy
But she just didn’t know it

A square can make you feel safe:

The square house sat on top of the grassy hill. Its perfectly geometric angles and shapes gave it a sense of unity and peacefulness. No one would ever suspect by looking at it that it has been a feared establishment for decades.

No strange angles, no wobbling sides. It’s dependable.

or trapped:

I was stuck. Trapped. In a box, and my life was square as square can be. I longed for adventure, and yet i was too afraid to break out of my cage. I was afraid to ever leave, though leaving was all i dreamed of.

or stuck:

My pen dropped
My words stopped
Stuck in a square…
Hitting corners
Tossed from
One side
To the next
Turning and Turning
and Turning
and Turning
In squares
My pen, my words
Stuck in the middle

or threatened:

your four corners
i see
they bruise
they are sharp
i just died
caressing them

A square can be blinding:

It was an ugly square of white light, flashing through the shattered glass just long enough to blind her.

or make us see:

Someone told me once,
That they were a hobo
and I was a princess,
A princess riding home
On a boxcar
Stuck in my square domain
Long hair flying out the cracks
Chasing the stars
as we ride on to freedom
[Laura Mary]

or define us, for better or worse:

There once was a square, who sat in a tree all day and dreamed what it would be like to be a rectangle. One day, the Sage-Circle came up to his tree, and the square asked “Why can’t I be a rectangle?”
“But you are!” Replied the circle, “You’re a perfect rectangle.”
The young square was shocked, and thus asked the circle why he was perfect.
“Are all your sides the same length?” Asked the circle.
“Then you are perfect. As perfect as any shape can be. Any shape with sides, that is!”
The sage circle cackled as he rolled away.

Perfect. Equal. Fair and. Harmony. Utopia. Yet so imperfect and horrible.

And, to be clear:

Pumpkins are not square.

These are selected excerpts of entries from, and are just a few of many great entries—too many to list here.

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