Kangaroo Scientists of the Nineteenth Century

In their crucibles they attempt a new kind of tea
every day, usually through a combination of
Methods, such as the fox method, the hydrangea
method and the sunlight method this is a colour-
Determined method in effect, though efforts are
Made to avoid repeating any method on consecutive
days another of their efforts has gone into producing
A quietness spray to be used at peak noise times
Of the day they are an outwardly calm but spiritually
Restless bunch they have studied the letters of
the great bushrangers and are as often to be found
Reading under a tree as concocting and examining
In a lab they have their own journals and calendar
several of the apprentice chemists have been pawing
At the dates in search of a suitable one to celebrate
The career of Mandy, the most senior scientist in
the area, and who deserved pretty much all the credit
For the quietness spray and pheasant flash (the latter
is worn behind the ear and involves a kind of fishing
Fly which swings out in the peripheral vision, encouraging
speed it belonged to her earlier days as a physicist
Mandy was thirteen she studied her face in a mirror
As if looking back in time to her ancestors who could
Never have conceived of such a thing as science and
would never have thought the invention of a quietness
spray necessary even if they had but the bush is
Not the same, she thought she took her mother’s
Copy of Pride and Prejudice from the shelf, hoping
that the reading of quality literature would continue
To keep her species from using weapons she idly
sipped at a lukewarm cup of tea, nodding and
acknowledging the reasonable sound of the bellbirds
And gathered the equipment necessary for collection
Of plant extracts there were always new illnesses
to deal with, and a kind of malaise of the nerves
She could only call neurosis she believed that for
Better or for worse that the coming century would
focus much more on the study of the mind than it
Ever had before, the mind as a kind of bank that
Was always putting in and taking out dirty bits
Of money not at all like the kind of dirty bank she
Spent her days rooting in, looking for a flower often
she intuited that she was about to find something
Miraculous a new daisy, fungi, herb or cacti
Only to realise she was making tea a new way

Michael Farrell

Michael Farrell

Michael Farrell grew up in Bombala, New South Wales, and has lived in Melbourne since 1990 (Fitzroy since 2008). His most recent poetry book is Cocky's Joy; he also has recent chapbooks: the thorn with the boy in its side; same! same! same! same!; Long Dull Poem and roughly proofed (the latter three are available as free downloads). He has a PhD in Australian literature; his revised thesis was published as Writing Australian Unsettlement: Modes of Poetic Invention 1796-1945. He co-wrote the Dick Diver single 'Waste the Alphabet'. Michael was the winner of the 2012 Peter Porter Poetry Prize.

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