If you have ever owned
a tortoise, you already know
how difficult paper training can be
for some pets.
Even if you get so far
as to instill in your tortoise
the the value of achieving the paper
there remains one obstacle -
your tortoise’s intrinsic sloth.
Even a well-intentioned tortoise
may find himself, in his journeys
to be painfully far from the mark.
Failing, your tortoise may shy away
for weeks within his shell,
utterly ashamed, or looking up with tiny,
wet eyes might offer an honest shrug.
–Scott Cairns, “Slow Learner” in Compass of Affection: New and Selected Poems (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2006), 5.