After Lorraine le Plastrier’s wood carving, Platypus with Puggles and Nest
The name for a young platypus is a platypus.
I was discovered covered in Latin.
Enlightenment scientists thought me a hoax,
others a joke God made when he was stoned.
The tribes had me product of wayward duck
and rat – names numerous as eucalypts:
booraburra, mallangong, tambreet, dulaiwarrung…
The English explored me for signs of trickery
sewn by foreigners – Oriental stitchers
trying to fool the rule of Britannia.
Forced to admit me to the study of fauna
Europeans gave me spasms of names,
a trail of words leading back to the Garden;
steropodon galmani begat obduron insignis
begat platypus anatinus begat ornithorhynchus paradoxus
begat ornithorhynchus anatinus.
already bagged by a beetle, shouldn’t have stayed.
But did. Now it’s a tag that won’t go away.
Puggle jumped on me like a christening flea
with a mania for naming. So we’re a soft toy, beagle/
pug and baby echidna all with the same handle.
I can lap milk from pools on my mother’s belly.
It’s impossible, but I do it anyhow
and laugh like Puck at all I see, thinking,
Lord, what fools these mortals be.
Ross Donlon lives in Castlemaine where he convenes poetry events, including a monthly reading. He is publisher of Mark Time Books. Widely published in Australia and Ireland, he is winner of international poetry competitions and the Launceston Cup, premier spoken word event of the Tasmanian Poetry Festival. A sequence from his recent book, The Blue Dressing Gown, was a program on Radio National’s Poetica in 2013.