Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Prospector

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It had been a relief to escape the monotony of her working world and now as she lay with her lunch in the Edinburgh gardens, the warm rays of the sun gently kissed her bare arms and penetrated her being. Before her eyes the branches of the elms spread to form a canopy and it seemed to her that diamonds of light glistened like stars in the night sky amid the tapestry of branches and leaves. The words 'know thyself' pirouetted amid the imaginal theatre, words, which recurred in her dreams and during these quiet moments of daydreaming when she permitted herself to enter the temple of Apollo for respite. Like a hospes this sanctuary comforts pilgrims and traveller's who seek it protection. Like a hospes the temple of Apollo is a place for healing. It is a place where people can express both grief and joy, celebrate life and death and find meaning. Today it provided a place for her to remember and gain strength from childhood memories.

Carefully she unpacked the small 'medicine bag', her companion on these excursions. Silently she stopped to look at the bag contents, gently fingering them as she laid them alongside her. Today the small bottle of golden specks caught her attention. A remnant from her childhood this bottle contained golden slithers that she had painstakingly scraped from the gold pan and bottled over forty years ago. The specks seemed brighter today, flickering and flashing in the sunlight as winged memories swarmed about her. The word prospector came, seemingly from nowhere, as if searching for someone to remember its meaning. “Prospectors look out for gold and explore regions” she wrote in the small notebook that was her constant companion. “Prospectors mine experimentally”.

Archie Hair was a prospector who loved the bush. She remembered that he had filled his days wandering through the Australian bush, placing small signs, clues for the treasure hunts he took people on. When she followed him along secret bush trails she had learned about prospecting. They were always on the look out. "Bob low. Look up" his quaint markers guided them. Every turn bought promise. From the ridge they had an extensive view across the landscape. Only a tiny trail of smoke dotted the spot where 'The Arches' lay. Mr. Hair always bought them back safely. He knew to carefully mark his trail. He knew every branch and gully. His prospecting gave her another view of life. Through him she learned to search and to be optimistic. He filled her heart with trust and a sense of adventure".

As she turned the old bottle over and over, looking for a fresh perspective a mental landscape spread out before her. Calmed by a sudden sense of Mr. Hair's presence she lay quietly in the curve of the old tree trunk, permitting herself to drift off and be with him once more. She remembered his treasure hunts affectionately and considered that the fairy mail slot in the adjacent tree was the perfect spot to leave a message. Archie would have taken advantage of a spot like this to hide one of his trinkets. With this thought she believed that she heard Archie's laughter tinkling in the distance but perhaps it was just wind chimes or, more likely the sounds of happy children drifting from the nearby school yard. Childhood memories had come uninvited, drifting towards her, a host of golden words surrounded her and, deftly snatching them she wrote with vigor for such luminous memories did not come every day.

“Archie Hair built the Arches alongside the Freestone Creek just out from Briagalong. He had retired from active farming to enjoy solitude and squander his days roaming through the bush. The quaint cottage that he built near the Blue Pool became known, affectionately, as 'The Arches' to the streams of people, from all walks of life, who came to spend a few restorative hours with the old couple” she wrote, but stopped.

This is hopeless she thought, wearily pouring the steaming contents of her thermos into her Bodem. It did neither Archie nor Edna justice to write a traditional narrative but she knew she had to introduce them. They had meant so much to her, been the grandparents she had never known. She wanted to capture their essence but the right words eluded her for the moment. So she wrote a new heading on her page.

‘The Prospector’

To gain inspiration she quietly she took a deep red stone from her bag and ever so gently caressed the facial features, the eyes, mouth, eroded by waters tumbling constantly over it. She was searching to find a fresh perspective and a new approach. She would be happy to be a stone and explore the cool, quiet corridors. Could an old spirit be trapped inside this stone that she found lying in the stony creek near Flowerdale? Could the spirit of this stone guide her?

Her mind was leaping from one idea to another, much as she had leapt with agility across the stepping stones in the Freestone Creek all those years ago. There was no point going back to the actual creek bed, as it no longer looked anything like the place she had once loved. No traces of the old people could be found anywhere. A picnic ground had long replaced the old house. There was no sign of the banksia roses that wound their way through the arch that once marked the entrance. She gently turned the stone over and over, fingering its chaffed body and as she did so she thought she saw a vapor rising.

Like a puppet she began to write. Words slipped silently on to the crisp white page and a story began to form.

‘A vapor rose out of the stone, rising slowly, speaking of things that were and are and will be. The stone remembered the Hair's, the old couple who lived by the Freestone Creek. "I will take you back there" the stone offered.

They stepped into the parallel world together, into the creek bed, cool water trickling over the multitude of stones, the sunlight twinkling on the water, lighting the stones, and highlighting their multicolored backs. Stepping carefully from stone to stone they made their way along the creek bed, edged by Eucalyptus and ferns.

In the distance a child was panning for gold. Intent with her search for golden specks she did not look up. Just ahead, in the Blue Pools her brothers were splashing happily. On they wandered. Further along the creek they found the path that led to the back of the house where Archie stood cutting strips of meat. A Kookaburra sat by his side, watching every movement its head cocked on one side, expectancy glistening in its eyes. But Archie did not speak. He seemed not to have noticed their arrival.

Beyond the distant hills a thin wisp of smoke zigzagged across the sky and drifted slowly southwards. A hush fell over the bush. Leaves hung motionless on the huge gum trees. The intense heat of the summer's sun had dried and shriveled them and young leaves drooped lifelessly in the heat. A small wallaby stopped briefly, head cocked. It was listening to the wind, its nostrils turned northwards. The smell of bushfire bought fear. If the north wind whipped up the fire could turn into a terrifying firestorm that would destroy everything in its path.

"The fire had started quietly after a lightening strike" the stone explained." The fire leapt playfully at first, zigzagging through a fern gully, slowed only by the dampness of the tree ferns. But then it ran up a Eucalyptus and joyfully scampered and crackled, exploding across its dried, crisp branches. No longer playful, the fire leapt triumphantly from tree to tree like a Roman candle. Then it ran down again to the tinder dry undergrowth further down the gully. The fire transformed. It noisily cracked, spat and hissed. Out of control and fanned by a gusty north wind it sent smoke mushrooming into the sky and burning ash across the bush. As the fire marched over the hills the heat took away the air and it sounded as though a hundred fiery, fighting dragons surrounded 'The Arches'. A wall of flames appeared on the ridge, belching high in the sky. The Arches were destroyed. The hills and gullies were shrouded in an eerie orange light and where the countryside had been green all was black. Mr. Hair had to be taken to the safety of his son's property when the fire came. He never returned to see the charred remains of the Arches, the trees stripped of their foliage and reduced to glowing stumps. He never saw the embers that glittered in the ashes of the ruined cottage...’

Briefly she paused to re-read the words, in awe of the stone's narrative that so explicitly revealed why there really was no point going in search of the Arches. Stones like this one have borne witness to all the important events she thought. We live chronologically, experiencing our lives as a succession of events, but it is not until we look back that we see the picture forming and begin to write our narrative. In the first instance we rehearse living through reading stories, using these stories to extend our experiences and to experiment. Stories give us categories that help us to evaluate our daily experiences. It seemed that the stone was guiding her pen. Her thoughts and words seemed to come from the stone itself.

Subdued by remembering the destruction of that simple cottage she sipped the coffee and sat slowly savoring a Yo-yo, the closest thing to a Kiss that she had been ever able to find. Mrs. Hair made the most beautiful Kisses. Her father had loved them. The sun caught hold of the bottle and the pureness of the old gold caught her eye. She tried to remember and capture the happy hours she spent with the Hairs yearning to give them the immortality they deserved. They had been such significant figures in her life. She wrote

"The child bent to pick up the small slimy rock. Turning it over, inspecting the yellow tinge she turns, excited, and calls out to the old man working nearby. He turned to examine the yellowing stone. "It is only lichen Heather". Disappointed she dropped it and continued her search for 'golden nuggets'. As she dipped in her fingers in the cool stream water fresh young words came flowing towards her.”

The Arches were magical she decided. In this sanctuary she felt completely safe. Within these walls she could tell her story. “Narrative helps us to make sense of our lives by telling our story either to other people or to ourselves” she thought. When something happens to us it is a normal impulse to tell someone about it. Framing events as a story helps us get things in perspective. If we cannot tell someone else, we tell it to ourselves, sometimes compulsively over and over, trying to make sense of it all. Story heals and palliates our pain. It is a part of the process of development.

As she wrote metaphors and symbols fought to gain her attention, memories swam past in schools. It was The Arches that she really wanted to write about. But her memory of them was fragmented and blurred. Once she had known every marker on the road that led to their place. The Austin A40 knew the way along the Dargo road almost as well as she did.

Trying again, desperate to capture a sense of this place she took up her pen, writing as though she were there once more.

“Just ahead she saw a log lying across the ground. As she step up onto she spotted a piece of torn material, tied to a branch. "This is the right direction" she spoke aloud, "but where are the others? They always go on ahead and leave me behind. It's not fair. They should have to wait. Mum told Brian he had to look after me today, but he's rushed ahead."

Just ahead a figure in brown flannels sits, waiting patiently. Smiling broadly, Mr. Hair greeted her warmly. "Look Heather! I have saved some of Mrs. Hairs kisses and my ginger ale for you. Your father and the boys have gone back to 'the Arches' but I waited for you. It is getting late".

The ginger beer tasted beautiful but she ate only one kiss, leaving the others by the tree for the Joey she had seen hopping past just a few minutes ago. "We really better head back now." Archie said as he returned from leaving fresh signs for the next group of treasure hunters, coming up from Briagalong during the week.

As they walked back down the slope, past the cascading banksia roses and into his quaint cottage she held his hand more tightly than usual. She didn't ever want to forget him or his strong hands. Mrs. Hair's eyes danced brightly as they walked into the tiny sitting room. A crocheted rug lay across her knees. Edna sat by the fire in an armchair talking to her mother. They loved to talk. "Archie, make a cup of tea for Dorothy, there's a good fellow. Dot and Colin are staying for tea - bring in some kisses and ginger ale for the children." "Oh goodie" she clapped and danced. She just loved staying with Mr. and Mrs. Hair for tea. Life felt particularly good when they stayed on with them in their quaint little house. As Archie boiled the kettle she skipped up the small staircase to the attic where he had plastered the walls and ceiling with cuttings from old magazines. It was her favorite room in their house; a tiny sanctuary far removed from her every day life.”

Satisfied that today she had drawn up old memories she sighed with relief and drained the last of the coffee. Sustained by warm memories, ready to face the world of her work. Her tiny sanctuary was safe. Those fires never destroyed it any more than time has wearied the ancient muse. I can return to the bower of bliss and the muse of my childhood whenever I wish she smiled self -satisfied. It all lies safely within 'the Arches', tucked safely within a corner my memory.

Furtively she grabbed the pen, ready to record a second visit to 'the Arches' to check that she really could so easily reach her bower of bliss.

“The moon was shining brightly, throwing a silvery trail for her to follow. Without waking anyone she gathered her things and, opening the door quietly so that no one would hear, slipped out. The moonlight danced on the bluestone illuminating a path. Like a searchlight it swayed guiding her as she passed the strangely fluorescent fences. Gardens sparkled, white iceberg roses glistening as she wandered towards the gardens and her favorite circle of trees.

Sprawled under the trees she let her finger guide a path through the map of the labyrinth that she had bought with her. "If I can just get to the centre I will find the Arches and be with them all once more" she murmured. The moon's light drenched the circle and she stopped to gaze in wonder at her majesty. The glorious rays of the moon that have lit the wonders of the world since the dawn of time is focused on this spot tonight. A rustle and the play began. Woodland spirits in flowing white gowns floated by in rowdy orgiastic revelry as Wagner's music heralded the letting loose of some primeval force. Each local spirit held silvery threads and as they danced, faster and faster it seemed that a silver arch emerged and from within that arch stepped all the familiar faces.

Everyone gathered. Her childhood self came and nestled alongside her and together they watched as the theatre began. The setting was in a small cottage that perched precariously alongside the Freestone Creek. Mrs. Hair sat with a pretty crocheted rug snugly tucked over her knees. A small fire filled the quaint room with subdued light. On a small table, covered with a pretty lace tablecloth that Mrs. Hair had made sat the good cups and saucers and a sugar bowl filled with cubed sugar. A delicate set of silver tongs lay on top. The teacups clinked softly as Mrs. Hair poured tea and passed the kisses all round. Mr. Hair bought in freshly brewed Ginger beer and everyone gathered to savor the much-awaited afternoon tea. "Anyone for a treasure hunt?" asked Mr. Hair as the last of the Ginger beer was drained from the children's glasses.

But this time she was content to stay behind, up in the tiny attic and lie examining the pictures Archie had used to paper the wall. Silently she gazed at the gaudy, bright lipstick smeared lips that seemed to stand out on the porcelain faces of the film stars he had collected and she imagined….”

She closed her notebook and lovingly stored her book and pen in the 'medicine bag' she kept for this express purpose. Stretching like a cat she rose, gathered her supplies and strode, revitalized and content, across the park towards the clutter of golden spires and the familiar routines of work. One day she would write a story about 'the Arches' but for today she was content to have gleaned these fragments, happy to have remembered.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Little Red Riding Hood Crime Revealed

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Warning: Some readers may be disturbed by some of the images in this news report. Don't ever tell this tale to your kids.

Breaking News: Little Red Riding Hood Crime Revealed
Reporter: Heather Blakey

The thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger looked like a large, long dog, with stripes, a heavy stiff tail and a big head. Its scientific name, Thylacinus cynocephalus, means pouched dog with a wolf's head. Fully grown it measured about 180 cm (6 ft) from nose to tail tip, stood about 58 cm (2 ft) high at the shoulder and weighed up to 30 kg. The short, soft fur was brown except for 13 - 20 dark brown-black stripes that extended from the base of the tail to almost the shoulders. The stiff tail became thicker towards the base and appeared to merge with the body.

Tasmanian Tigers were said to be usually mute, but when anxious or excited made a series of husky, coughing barks. When hunting, they gave a distinctive terrier-like, double yap, repeated every few seconds.

The tiger was shy and secretive and always avoided contact with humans. Despite its common name, 'tiger' it had a quiet, nervous temperament compared to its little cousin, the Tasmanian devil. Captured animals generally gave up without a struggle, and many died suddenly, apparently from shock. When hunting, the tiger relied on a good sense of smell, and stamina. It was said to pursue its prey relentlessly, until the prey was exhausted. The tiger was rarely seen to move fast, but when it did it appeared awkward. It trotted stiffly, and when pursued, broke into a kind of shambling canter.

Since 1936, no conclusive evidence of a tiger has been found. However, the incidence of reported tiger sightings has continued. There have been hundreds of sightings since 1936, many of which may have been clear cases of misidentification.

During the nineteen eighties Parks and Wildlife Officer, Richard Malrooney, was said to have undertaken an extensive but unsuccessful search to confirm a 1982 sighting reported near the Arthur River in the State's northwest.

Now twenty three years later startling information has emerged which has shocked Tasmanian residents and left a cloud, darker than the crimes committed against the native aboriginal population and the wretched inhabitants of the Port Arthur Penal Colony. It appears that Parks and Wildlife were compelled to suppress Richard Malrooney’s startling report that rare DNA, extracted from skeletal remains was found in bottled jars of ethanol on the dusty shelf of a house in a remote part of Northern Tasmania. Only last year more Frankenstein style remains were found there. Amongst these was a well-preserved, one hundred and thirty six year old Tasmanian tiger pup.

It has now emerged that a young girl and her grandmother conspired to undertake horrific experiments on these innocent creatures in a cottage in the wilds of Tasmania during the late eighteen nineties and the first part of the nineteenth century. It appears that they relentlessly pursued the Tasmanian tiger, trapped them and committed heinous crimes against them. They covered their actions by spreading the story that these carnivorous animals were a threat to both humans and livestock. Bounties were put on the head of tigers and hundreds of the animals were trapped, snared, shot and poisoned near their property. No one had guessed that these well respected women kept a terrible secret.

They were sadists.

Little Red Riding Hood, as the young woman was known throughout the small town of Keltro, was in the habit of going to work with her grandmother each weekend. She always wore a red cape and spent time in what was then known as the Asbestos Range National Park.

Narawntapu National Park, as it is now called, stretches from the low coastal ranges to the long Bass Strait beaches, and includes an historic farm, a complex of inlets, small islands, headlands, wetlands, dunes and lagoons, all with an amazing variety of plants and animals.

Red Riding Hood and her grandmother were well respected in the small community of Keltro. The Westwards had farmed the region for years. Red Riding Hood’s grandmother had come to Tasmania in 1835 on the Resource with other free settlers from England. Lucinda Westward had a Licence in Midwifery and was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. From about 1815 the colony began to grow rapidly as free settlers arrived and lands were opened up for farming. Lucinda Westward was the eldest daughter of Isaiah Spencer Westward an English farmer who claimed land in the Keltro region.

The beautiful, incredibly talented Westward became a prominent colonial medical "specialist", a surgeon. In the early days, she was mainly called upon to restore or amputate damaged limbs. Great advances in anatomical knowledge during the early colonial period, derived from the dissection of human bodies, greatly increased the range of feasible operations. After the advent of anaesthetics and later of disinfectants in the middle of the nineteenth century she is said to have ventured into the abdominal cavity, the neck, and the chest. These operations were mainly performed under chloroform.

Westward had some experience in obstetrics and gynaecology and in latter years strayed into the doubtful provenances of mesmerism and electrotherapy. She was highly successful and became very wealthy. Upon her retirement she chose to become reclusive and live in the cottage, adjacent to the Asbestos Ranges and despite the humble appearance of her home lived in luxury. What no one knew was that although she maintained the appearance of a congenial, aging doctor, Lucinda Westward was dabbling in evil arts and she had found creatures to experiment upon. Isaiah Westward had always complained that a wolf like creature was eating his stock and Lucinda decided to take her revenge and experiment on this ancient species.

To capture these shy and secretive creatures, which generally avoided any human contact, Lucinda sent her granddaughter into the park with her basket to play among the butterflies and flowers that littered them. The girl had a special skill. She was able to communicate with all creatures and she enchanted even the hesitant Tasmanian tiger. When Red Riding took off her hooded red cape to reveal terrible bruises and scars the tiger went willingly to Grandmother’s house to protect her from the torture so cruelly inflicted upon her. Once there the beast was locked in a barren steel cage and subjected to unspeakable torture.

Malrooney, now retired, told reporters that the ghastly scene of mangled bodies parts in bottles found at the long abandoned Westward property left him permanently traumatised. He reported that these animals were routinely cut open, subjected to surgical operations, poisoned and forced to live in dark, barren steel cages for years. Many were left to suffer and die in these cages without any pain relief.

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Today the Narawntapu National Park is a place of peace. However, many visitors to the park have reported sighting creatures that look like Tasmanian Tigers and have said that they have smelled their distinctive odour and heard husky coughing barks late at night. If you are out walking this park late at night you might hear the spine chilling, high pitched screeches of a Tasmanian Devil or smell the distinctive odour of the Tasmanian Tiger. If you do, get away from there as fast as you can - you are in grave danger. The legacy of Lucinda Westward and her granddaughter lives on in the forest where followers, generations removed, continue the practice of evil she began so long ago. Watch your step carefully! The ghostly spirits of tortured creatures regularly avenge the dead.

"What I think about vivisection is that if people admit that they have the right to take or endanger the life of living beings for the benefit of many, there will be no limit to their cruelty." Leo Tolstoy

Saturday, April 23, 2005

African Sleeping Sickness

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Over recent weeks I have spent dark days
Lethargically slumped
over my writing desk
I have been feeling dispirited and dull
My concentration has gone
and I am now prone
To frequent,
unpredictable mood changes

For days now I have felt indifferent
decidedly irritable and
if you so much as looks at me
I am likely to snarl viciously and
Aggressively demand to know
why, just because
I teach people how to write
Everyone expects me to be an accomplished writer

What could someone
With a banal daily life like mine
Possibly have to write
In verse or prose for that matter?
Of what consequence
Are my sporadic, deranged mutterings?
It has all been a façade, a masquerade
all done with smoke and mirrors

This proliferation, this sudden invasion of my organs
this debilitating infection of my brain has left me
suffering from a chronic, torpor
It is an effort even
to raise my pen
I am suffering from daytime insomnia
exhausted by periods of sleep-like unconsciousness
And fear I will slip into a deep coma
wither and die of sleeping sickness

Sleeping sickness?
First described in the fourteenth century
when Sultan Djata of the Kingdom of Melli
was stricken by a lethargy that killed him
Only methodical destruction
of the tsetse flies habitat
repelled the spread but now, centuries later
a fresh reservoir of blood lies unprotected

Only a vigilant mobile surveillance system
with specialized staff
using effective diagnostic tools and
improved field control strategies
Will repel this resurgence
control this vigorous strain of sleeping sickness
causing neurological impairment in
lonely writers and artists all over the world

It must be in the water

“It must be in the water”
She laughs, facetiously
Encysted waterborne parasites
Giardia Lamblia
Cryptosporidium parvum
Have clearly seeped through
The untreated water system
Of the old medical hospital

“It must be in the water
she laughs, facetiously
It cannot be talent
Just spasmodic outbreaks of
Verbal diarrhoea
Contracted from the contaminated water
Within the old medical hospital

Chronic verbal diarrhoea
a serious disorder,
Signs of malabsorption
clearly suggesting
a serious underlying
medical problem

Is there a doctor in the house?

Monday, April 18, 2005


Gregarious maggot masses
Armed with mouth hooks
Prepare to rake over the
Black bitter heart
The decaying flesh
Of a lifeless writer
Slumped over a desk littered
With recent rejection slips

The haunting eyes of Anubis,
Watch silently as the skilled embalmer
Works through the night, her fingers
Caressing the artery reverently, impregnating
The lifeless writer with aromatic substances
Masking the decomposition
repelling the maggot masses

The embalmers composition lies complete
With just a hint of sandalwood in the still air
Accompanied by his embalmer, hia wife
The dead writer dressed in formal day suit
Awaits Christian love and forgiveness
For the eulogy to be
Tenderly spoken
For the ceremonials to begin

A cell phone’s ring tone breaks the silence
As the writer’s wife
Plans a merry weekend with
A gregarious editor who
Having agreed to publish
The writer’s retrospective
Prepares to rake in royalties

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Appraising the Heart

An eye for an eye
A tooth for a tooth

Within the field of rushes
Lies the heart of one
Mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend,
Whose time in this realm is done?

Within the field of rushes
Lies the heart of one
Teacher, counsellor, advocate, imagineer, friend
Who took but gave an eye, a tooth, a shoulder

Earth to Earth
Ashes to ashes dust to dust

Within the field of rushes
Lies a heart of one
Who gave more than she took
Who returns to the source

As light as a feather

Heather Blakey March 29 2005

The Goddess of the Stove

The Goddess of the Stove
A beautiful old woman
Clad in red garments
Hair knotted
On the top of her head
Charged with brewing medicines
seeking prolongation of life
a most noble aim

Worship this beautiful old woman
The Goddess of the Stove
Clad in red garments
Her hair delicately knotted
On the top of her head
Converting cinnabar
In to golden drinking vessels
The most noble of deeds

Give audience to
The Goddess of the Stove
A beautiful old woman
Clad simply in red
Hair twisted, knotted
On the top of her head
Plays music on warm pipes
Ripening millet amid frozen earth

Make due sacrifice
To the Goddess of the Stove
the immortals of Pengai
Living in the midst of the ocean
Make offerings to
The five sacred mountains
the four great rivers and
Give breath to immortal words

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Cabinets de Curiosities (Wunderkammer)

Cabinets de Curiosities (Wunderkammer)
Effect of the Interesting


A cabinet of wondrous curios
A delightful collection
Carefully placed
Lying, seeming unconnected
Next to each other
Triggering memories
Permitting the mind to
Wander to faraway places

Scales, microtomes,
Drafting tools,
Magic lanterns
Antique candle powered projectors
Fine laboratory glassware
Vintage beakers, funnels, test tubes, crucibles,
Dessicating jars
And a one-off hand blown, baroque piece carefully stored

A pair of rare wax anatomical models
Crutches and callipers,
Arm braces,
Blood pressure meters
And first aid dummies
Antique botanical prints
Woolly mammoth hair
Spiny trilobites,
Skulls, fish and ammonites stored in labelled draws.

Butterflies mounted in Petri dishes
An Atlantis Moth
Whimsical and wonderful
Packets of seed,
Very old taxidermy birds, in excellent condition
Hand-made pills,
Patent medicines and toiletries.
The scent of human breast milk, swamp water and sex
Stored in tiny laboratory vials

All combine to fill
A purveyors
wonder chamber of
creative stimuli

Fever Bark


Jungle fever
Dulls the brain
Weakened by exhaustion
I lie, wracked
Pale, emaciated
Red blood cells infected
By the protozoans of
dappled winged parasites.

Medieval catch all mercury
Leeching, purging
The horrid malevolent spirit remains
The blood-sucking parasite

Dressed in Cinchona’s laurel like leaves
Wearing a crimson gown
The fairest of Peruvian hand maidens
Harvests the Jesuit bark
Methodically grinding seeds
Into a bitter, colourless, amorphous powder
Amounting to the weight
Of two small silver coins

The fine bitter tasting
Popish powder
A powerful antipyretic
Given as a beverage
Mixed with lemon and lime
Soothes the blood-sucking parasite
And words flow

In Melbourne as in Lima

Heather Blakey April 2005


Temperature rising

Two drops of blood spread on the microscope
Stained and examined
Detect the
Falciparum parasite carrying Anopheles mosquito
Confirm a
Malignant malaria affecting the brain
And nervous system

The resistant parasite is in the blood
Symptoms appear, disappear, come and go in phases
No known anti-malarial products
No quinine, doxycycline, mefloquine
Is tolerated
Will combat
The parasite that daily demands I write

Veiled Parasite


The mosquito-borne parasite
Plasmodium falciparum
A veiled lady
Dances slow measured tango steps
On a ballroom of red blood cells

Disguising herself
She skilfully
A genetic game
Of hide-and-seek

The mosquito-borne parasite
Plasmodium falciparum
A veiled lady
Wrapped in tightly bound bundles
Of red organza

Swirls in rhythm,
Among helpless,
Ruptured red
Blood cells

Alert immune system spies
Sensing danger
Astutely identify
This red veiled lady
Dancing disguised

Sounding the alert
They spring to defence
Only to have her
Deftly switch form,
Change makeup, costume

Sixty different genes
Sixty different protein shields
A united force lined up
Barely discernible
My body play catch-up
As plasmodium falciparum
Switches first one masked gene
Then another, relentlessly
The disguise

Weary I lie
Red cells ruptured
My body
Listlessly battles
The wily parasite

Before I succumb I must
Like Captain Kirk
Unravel the secrets
Of the veiled parasites
Invisible power over me