One poem by Kathryn Fry

THE ART OF DOING THINGS

 

After Nancy Millis AC, MBE, FTSE (1922–2012)

 

The aroma from apples cultured in the rolling
     green of Somerset, evoked the Victoria Markets
of her childhood, and her father the fruiterer
     (all his ducks were swans). Like an opening
to another landscape, she knew she belonged.

She chose sick cider to isolate the culprit prokaryote,
     to pin-prick from pea-green plates to set its doubling
in motion in steel-capped tubes of media. She’d
     watch and chart and recall its habits and reactions,
the crude window on the microbe’s soul.

The die cast in her early scholarly life to handle
     stains and solutions and shaped glass, even the acrid
scent of spent bacteria and molten agar. I don’t
     have ground-breaking ideas; I just did the stuff.
In her sabbatical in Tokyo, she joined two men –

their minds overlapping like a Venn diagram – to
     upscale the sphere of Biotechnology. She was positive
as a catalyst for the waste waters in Port Philip Bay
     and they’d laud her for that. And more. Blow that
for a lark she said and more, for instance,

about the influx of students in ’52, the flood
     was nose-high. To the end, she’d vet ethical checks
on experiments, her company sharp. She’d speak
     her mind in a man’s world – they’d laud her
for that. The outcomes I want are curious people… 

If you take on students you should not
                be anything but right at the edge.

 

Note: Emeritus Professor Nancy Millis was a microbiologist who introduced fermentation technologies to Australia. The italicised words are those she used in an interview.

About the contributor

Kathryn Fry
Kathryn Fry has had poems published in various anthologies and journals, including Antipodes, Cordite Poetry Review, Not Very Quiet, Plumwood Mountain Journal and Westerly. Her first collection is Green Point Bearings (Ginninderra Press, 2018).

Related Articles

3 poems by Rachel J Fenton

Rachel J Fenton’s upcoming chapbook is, ‘Beerstorming with Charlotte Brontë in New York’ it is forthcoming from Ethel Zine and Micro Press in 2021.

2 Poems by Mark Mahemoff

Mark Mahemoff is a poet, critic and psychotherapist with an MA in Writing from The University of Technology, Sydney.

2 poems by Ben Hession

Ben Hession is a poet, reviewer and music journalist involved with community broadcasting.

More Like This

2 poems by Luciana Croci

Poet, Luciana Croci has a background in languages including Latin, French, Italian, German and Japanese.

Poetry by Eugen Bacon

Eugen Bacon’s work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award, Australian Shadows Awards and Nommo Award for Speculative Fiction by Africans.

Fotoula Reynolds

The Sunday visits  Pretty dress on Hair tied up with Daisy pins in Leather shoes Polished and  She is ready Ready as a...

2 Poems by Jenny Blackford

Jenny Blackford’s latest poetry collection is The Alpaca Cantos (Pitt Street Poetry), 2020.

Poetry by Tracie Lark

Australian born poet, now teaching in New Zealand.