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