States of Poetry Series Three - ACT | 'Mr. Darwin's Room (National Museum of Australia)' by Anita Patel

'A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.'
Charles Darwin

Inside a structure
of rainbow loops and angles
spangle whirling
over a cellophane lake
is Mr. Darwin’s room,
exactly as he left it:
cards tucked in the mirror,
pictures on the wall,
a basket by the fire,
unassuming clutter.
And all around the mutter
as foreign children stop and count
his instruments and books
(microscopes and jars)
odd playthings of a lifetime.

Outside …
a blue untroubled sky
rustles gently in the water
antipodean parrots flit
and settle on the grass –
their ancestors are under glass
inside this unfamiliar place –

and an old man’s chair is empty.

Anita Patel

Anita Patel

Anita Patel

Anita Patel has had work published in various journals including Conversations (Pandanus Press, ANU), Block 9, Burley Journal, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Demos Journal, Mascara Literary Review, and Not Very Quiet Journal. Her poem 'Women’s Talk' won the ACT Writers Centre Poetry Prize in 2004. She has performed her work at many events, including at the Canberra Multicultural Festival, the Poetry on the Move Festival, Noted Festival, Floriade Fringe Festival, and at Word in Hand in Glebe. She was the feature poet for the Mother Tongue Showcase at Belconnen Arts Centre in 2016. She is the guest editor for Issue Two of Not Very Quiet Journal.