Middle School [Neema Gets It]

April 26, 2013

Neema got it. He was not the principal; his name was ‘Principal’;
he taught math; he was talking about the midpoint of a line,
how you had  to know it’s beginning and its end.
A chalk line on the board. Tell me to stop when
I get to the middle.
An inch, barely. That’s the line.
Why didn’t you tell me to stop?
Another line.
Stop! Oh no, boys and girls. I’m nowhere near finished.
The line goes off the board, chalk on the wall,
around the room, across the door. The end.
Neema got it. Time was a factor. The first and the last.
Eschatology. She could use it in Word Stump.
I teach mathematics, its principles,
he says.
Any questions? Neema shoots up her hand.
Mr. Principal, does that mean Mr. Madden
is going to drive us all crazy this year?
A big smile. Yes child, you got it. Perfecto.

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2 Responses to “Middle School [Neema Gets It]”

  1. extrasimile Says:

    No, John, you get it. Totally. (Okay just kidding). A math teacher named Mr. Principal…yes, a bit of whimsy.—though sometimes in life, it’s a choice between having principles and having pals, the ‘middle’ is the heart of the matter. I hadn’t quite thought of it as the ‘allegory of the lines’, but I rather like the sound of it. Allegory of the lines…yes, I’ll run with it. Lines, of course, do exist in time, but as a mathematical entity, they are arguably outside time. Some say that there was a sign outside Plato’s Academy that read, ‘He who is ignorant of geometry shall not enter.’ Still, the lines that principle puts on board are not Platonic entities. (Oops, I mean Mr. Principal, just a Euclidian slip.) Still, Mr. P takes an odd example for a first lesson. Neema, however does get it. She’s also learned a new word: eschatology. I wonder what she’ll make of it.

  2. John Stevens Says:

    What’s going on here Jim? There seem to be two things: the lines (and their duration and eschatology – very clever allegory) and the puns on names (very witty!) but what are they doing in the same poem? I’m not as clever as Neema.
    On the other hand, as always, I love the tone of your poem, the way in which you establish a strong and consistent mood with economy of words and lines. This time it’s the mood of enquiry, and of instruction, and then a sudden fusion as the lesson is grasped – an excitement for teacher and pupil alike!
    Looking through the poem again (several times now) I think I see another clever device: the title tells us that this is Middle School – and there they are looking for the middle of a line – or maybe the mid-point of a life.
    Furthermore, the beginning and end of the poem are concerned with puns on names; in between (in the Middle) we have the allegory of the lines. That allegory is the thing that grabs my attention; the play on names strikes me as being there for amusement. Did you start out with a smile on your face and get drawn sideways into eschatology, and then extricate yourself with an amused shrug?


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