On the county road coming home yesterday, I saw a dark snake sidewind his way across the faded blacktop, all s-shaped and slithery, like he was sliding smoothly on an invisible cushion puffed through the holes of an asphalt air-hockey table. If I stretched him out, he would have been about three feet long. IF. Because I had no intention of stopping to catch and stretch him.
He reminded me of a time I tried to enlighten my students on the stylings of D. H. Lawrence. I was teaching a different subject than my current assignment. With younger kids. We took several days to read and discuss "Snake". We touched on imagery, alliteration, similes, sibilance, personification, went over vocabulary words pulled from the poem, and drew chronological panels like comic strips. (One little guy included a snake shouting, "Mama Mia!" when the 'clumsy log' was thrown at him.) I explained the reference to the albatross in "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", and how 'Sicilian July' showed that the setting was Italy, and that Etna is a volcano. I felt that my middle school students were more that adequately prepared to write a half-page summary of the poem.
Did you ever feel like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone? When his movie sister tells him, "You know, Kevin, you're what the French call les incompetents."
One of the reports proclaimed: "I think it's about someone whose land was taken away by the government, and a bunch of other homeless people who might lose theirs."
In case you haven't read "Snake" lately, check it out. There is NO mention of the government or eminent domain or the homeless. The title is SNAKE. The assignment was to write a summary of "Snake". Could this student not even toss in "...and a snake." Just to humor me?
Days like that, when I see my obvious failure to connect, are the reason that I need my summer vacation.