In the Detail

Following a call-out from the Hunter Writers Centre last year, I was involved in a project called In the Detail, an exhibition of poetry and natural history illustrations. I couldn't resist a narrative approach. Here is my response to a drawing by Nadia Waters included in the show. It was fun taking this image and letting loose.


Before birth, or that bit where I emerged from spawn…
Let’s call it Spirth just to piss off the Academy.
Even before Spirth, I could feel that keen taper making me
something more than me – Naturalia.
A balsa box of pins sat bright nearby
making me more than the click and crack of my armour. Flightless
and keeping me with all those slides gathering dust in the fly man’s filing cabinet.
He once held court at CSIRO until he got the package with the rest of them.
Cabinet had a key. Fierce about security and some other
colleague. And he’d say it in italics just like that.
They all hated each other and spat when they spoke
Eager for their newfound data to crack first in the air
and then onto paper, his precious.
The papers would also go into the cabinet locked to protect the Science.
Colleagues he would hiss into the microscope, the words ethanol bitter.
We were just a diversion for him while he tried to save the world from
Screw Worm Fly. Have you seen what those things can do to a brain?
Don’t Google it. It’s gross.
He’s gone now.
It was a tiny key but you could hear its final turn, a cartoon echo in the lab.