Dr. Platypus

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Commenter Peter Kirkpatrick has shared the following poem/meditation based on something I mentioned in my inaugural post at this blog: when the first platypus specimens arrived in England, scientists there thought the creature was some sort of hoax. Nothing like that could actually exist in nature! It laid leathery eggs like a reptile, it had the bill and webbed feet of a duck, and it was covered with fur and suckled its young. Thanks, Peter!

A specimen platypus
lands in the probing hands
of a British scientist.

Webbed foot, duck’s bill, mammal’s body?
Not possible.
So begins the autopsy;
searching for telltale stitches.

if I were stitching together
a platypus heaven,
I’d start by remaking the Sahara,
gloriously golf course greened,
lavish storehouse for continents.

I’d design a slumless Calcutta,
watch her children play without care,
her men give an honest day’s work in return
for a day’s justice and dignity.

I’d recreate countless lost species of animal.
Whales would spout water,
splash flukes with impunity.
The dodo would no longer be food for a cliché.

I’d make every man a hero,
every little girl a beautiful princess.

I’d add one last thing.
A museum of relics (lest we forget):
an assault rifle,
a hospice bed,
a divorce certificate…

I’m beginning to see
why it’s so hard to believe.



  1. Jeannie says:

    Wow. Just, wow.


  2. […] 1799 – this poem struck me. […]


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