St. Patrick Visits a Public Grade Schoolby Dustin Michael
NO doubt the teacher
meant well by inviting him.
It's his day, after all.
The children know his name,
but few have any details
besides the snake thing.
''Where did you banish them?''
one boy wonders. ''Did you
send them all here?''
St. Patrick, who is to serpent-free Ireland
what pub song is to mastodon,
did not, and starts to say so,
but before he can explain another
child raises her hand. ''Can you banish
all the snakes in America to Iraq?''
Then teacher chimes in with,
''Good idea, but then wouldn't
they bite our troops, too?''
''What if,'' yells a boy in the back,
''you went, too, St. Patrick, leading
an unstoppable snake army!''
''Let’s not forget,'' says the teacher,
''how important snakes are. They
help by eating rats.''
''Banish rats, too!''
screams a girl
in the front.
''Only Peter Piper
can do that,''
some kid says,
and St. Patrick, who is to snake banishment
what corned beef is to continental drift,
considers discussing the serpent
in abstract terms, like some scholars,
as supplanted pagan symbol, worries
about parents complaining, so
his eyes rove from child to child, alight
on one like rainbow tip on pot of gold
''Someone's not wearing green,'' he groans.