The snake in textbooks; "It was once believed that snakes thought with every part of their part of their bodies."; R. G. Otis, "Snakes of Asia"

The snake in textbooks doesn't mind or know that he is being observed as if he were layers of sediment or rings on a tree Or rather, his tail knows as much as his body does, or his head, (And which is which, body or tail, is a problem as evocative as that of graded mists or rolle-up socks). This fact of ambiguity underlies all his intelligence and all his beauty. (Looped into pure parabolas, he is so beautiful he might be translated into numbers.) The snake in textbooks doesn't mind or know. While often admired as a made thing, for the back basketwork, and the little clear stone eyes, inlaid, which stare at us from the photographs, it is the science explicit in every link -- his every turn burnishing the adjacent air -- the moving Arabic the staying still his entire originality the inscribed moment for which we applaud him here.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.