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If I can just find the right ingredient,
the perfect piece of sheep’s wool caught
on the barbed wire in the rain, the sharpest
gum leaf from the nature strip,
the precise geranium petal under my parents’
bedroom window, the excellent dead moth
discovered in the wardrobe.

(Beautiful ferment)

While my brothers experiment with ideal
ratio of superphosphate to paddock, to cow,
to gallon of milk, to butterfat content,
my sister and I toil in the packing crate
workshop next to the Fred Flintstone-painted
cubby house. (Ooh, look, this piece of asbestos
fallen off the wall makes a handy dinner plate!)
(Risk : ratio)

Theirs was applied capitalist science.
Ours, pure curiosity,
with a tinge of sibling competition.
(Nurture stink)

Note: the scum that forms across the top
of the Stink Jar is what holds it down and in.
But if you pierce it,

Meanwhile my mother experiments with the latest
self-saucing packet mix padded out to serve
eight and baked in a dish in the electric frypan
to save firing up the wood stove in summer.

(Domestic Science)

And the boys at school experiment carving
rockets out of balsa wood powered by soda bulbs.
They string wire across the playground from swings
to building corner and we all line up to watch.

My sister in her invisible white coat
also has a secret laboratory
in the chimney under the house.
But I’m not allowed to go in there.
Tiny bottles and jars perch on the brick

(The science of accidents)

My beloved toy rabbit, left behind —
another kind of experiment.
Watching its guts bust open all winter
through the slats
as I pass on my way to school.