Half-lives and half-solved sudokus

Walking home from Chemistry class,

Having just learned about half-lives,

Something caught my eye- something

Tossed carelessly by the roadside.


Not anything particularly curious, no;

Neither poets’ fancies or revelations,

golden autumn leaves

dewdrops- nothing alluring nor appealing.


Just the previous day’s newspaper, quarter-folded

With a sudoku half-solved,

Grey graphite numbers complementing red printer-ink;

An eighty-one squared chessboard with its obedient pawns.


Peering closer at the newspaper with the dirty shoeprint, I read-

Being a Sudoku enthusiast, couldn’t help but look-

‘Level: Hard’ proclaimed the caption, intimidating

Its solver perhaps; the potter with his abandoned creation.


Rubbed-out pencil marks, I noticed

Scattered through the many-squared battlefield,

Traitors to the crown- pretending to help,

Cunningly leading to its downfall.


‘Level: Hard’- the green grid screamed, deafening

Out the voices of reason, breaking the solver’s resolve;

Imitating life itself, a sheep in wolf’s clothing laden

With red printer-ink problems

Devoid of the gallant graphite to tackle them.


Like life, the unforgiving sudoku grid

Cajoles, entices, seduces- complete me, solve me;

Then resists all attempts at defeat,

Deceptive will-o-the-wisps leading deeper into the dark.


You try to go back, and trace the beginning of the end,

You start from scratch but you fail-

And then you shatter- you bow down, tired

Of this tyranny, and give in, unprotesting.


Life, forever firing red printer-ink problems,

But like in sudoku, blessings in disguise-

Problems with solutions cleverly hidden,

Waiting, looking to be found.


This solver, I noticed, persevered unlike most,

But finally, frustrated, tossed it all away,

Throwing away his solved half with the unsolved,

To rot in the dirt, and maybe in his mind for a while.


I wondered how it would have been

If he’d stuffed it in his pocket instead,

And looked at it afresh, anew

Waking up from an afternoon nap?


Time heals all wounds, they say- but no;

Time makes you heal them yourself,

Look at them with new eyes, maybe

Heal the puzzle’s gaping wounds.


I crouched closer to the half-solved sudoku,

Wielding my leaden sword, unable to leave it half-dead,

But then I stopped; it wasn’t mine,

A stranger’s problems, nobody’s to solve.



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