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.