Not even our teachers believed in it, though they tried
             to convince us otherwise, directing with rigid cheerfulness

our attention to illustrations long outdated: solemn menageries
             of beak and bone, man in his elementary stages. All of this

was a test, we knew, to be passed only if we declined
             to look too closely at specimens preserved by the disregard

of our siblings before us. To endure, we had only to close
             our textbooks the moment it was allowed, the swish

of their pages like a serpent in Adam's garden—
             something we might wish to take hold of, but mustn't.