Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Scott Cairns: On Slow Learning

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.
Forgive him.

–Scott Cairns, “Slow Learner” in Compass of Affection: New and Selected Poems (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2006), 5.


poetreader said...

What a wonderful image!
This will be helping the attitude of this old guy (me) in dealing with some very difficult people.

I go to a lot of poetry readings where I share some of my own stuff, and occasionally someone elses. I'll be reading this one tonight.


Alice C. Linsley said...

I enjoy Scott Cairn's work. You'll love it too!

I'll be posted more of his poems here, so watch for them.