7 April 1852.
Went to the Zoo.
I said to Him –
Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me
– Carol Ann Duffy
V. B. Nimble, V. B. Quick
V. B. Wigglesworth wakes at noon,
Washes, shaves and very soon
Is at the lab; he reads his mail,
Swings a tadpole by the tail,
Undoes his coat, removes his hat,
Dips a spider in a vat
Of alkaline, phones the press,
Tells them he is F.R.S.,
Subdivides six protocells,
Kills a rat by ringing bells,
Writes a treatise, edits two
Symposia on “Will man do?”,
Gives a lecture, audits three,
Has the sperm club in for tea,
Pensions off an ageing spore,
Cracks a test tube, takes some pure
Science and applies it, finds
His hat, adjusts it, pulls the blinds,
Instructs the jellyfish to spawn,
And, by one o’clock, is gone.
– John Updike
At Moa Point that afternoon
two biologists were searching rockpools
for specimens. It was low tide.
I watched. They rolled away a stone,
fossicked in wet weed, described things
rather self-consciously to each other.
Then one of them put into my hands
a cold heavy jelly: my first sea-slug.
I peered gratefully down at it,
turned it over – did nothing, surely?
for them to laugh at. ‘See that?’
said the one with freckles (they were both quite young)
‘it doesn’t seem to worry her.’
‘Oh, well,’ said the other ‘these local kids…’
I kept my eyes down for a moment
in solemn, scientific study;
then said in my recently-acquired
almost local accent ‘Thank you.’
And firmly but gently (a vet with a kitten)
handed it back
– Fleur Adcock