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Before the Satellites

—for Peter Haglich

In 6th grade, on his home island of Lošinj, off Croatia,
Peter was interviewed by his school dean. 
The dean asked after Peter’s new teacher,
wondering why none of the other students learned any math.
Why were they floating in numbers and only asking Peter for help?
The new teacher had his line let out, dismissed. 
Peter’s early talent with formulas was clear to the dean,
and Peter made it clear again in the Merchant Marines.
Before the satellites, before container ships glided precise
below healthy satellites in constellation slots—the current
government description of GPS—navies needed
those with strong math capabilities to navigate seas and straits.
When the Communists found their way to his island,
Peter saw a certain future arriving. A professor 
was told to lecture on astronomy, and a Communist leader 
required that the lecture be checked beforehand. 
What do the stars have to do with the politics
of communists
, Peter thought. In a few years, satellites
began making metal constellations above.
So Peter left, jumped from his island to ship 
to the shores of Europe, the Middle East, North America, 
and South America. Ultimately navigating a way to 
a job as a draftsman in New York. 
When he retired, he saw that he could help students,
as he had on Lošinj, with the power of math to move
them on a course beyond the chairs they sat toiling in.
As a tutor, he knew that beyond the formulas,
a sixth-grade student could learn if relaxed, if guided
with one-on-one focus. After fifteen years,
that student-to-tutor golden ratio became its own achievement,
the stacks of equations solved, problems completed,
piled high enough to compete with the satellites.

©2022 by Joe Bueter