Adelaide, Kaurna Country, Tuesday 15 December 2015

On a fresh midmorning in mid-December, I alight my bus at the east end of Adelaide’s CBD and proceed to speed walk along cracked concrete. As The Superjesus’s track ‘Now and Then’ begins on my iPod, I pass characterful cafés overflowing with coffee drinkers and breakfast eaters. I’m en route to the university for the very last time. That tatty satchel slung over my shoulder feels far heavier than usual. As I’m heavy-eyed yet in a hurry, I drop into a café and order a latte to go. I check my smartphone for local news and weather as I wait, the scent of coffee beans acting to accentuate my impatience. Within minutes, I hear my first name and receive a latte with a heart. I offer the barista some synonym of ‘Thanks’. I pour two sugars into my latte but neglect to stir. Outside, the KeepCup warms my hands against lingering cold while hot liquid ignites my dulled tastebuds. I continue along the footpath and, at the lights, rush across North Terrace. I push through a half-open gate, passing from grey space to greenspace. Here in the hallowed grounds of the botanic gardens, my heavy eyes reflect vast vistas of plant life. A lone tourist taking photos of cycads reminds me of myself several years ago. A man kissing a woman holding roses makes me think of myself in several years’ time. I find it hard to believe that 2016 is but a fortnight away. I find it hard to believe that my thesis is due today! As my fear of facing frustrating printing problems manifests, local vocals & assorted strings protect me from upwelling stress. Though I’d love to stop and smell the dahlias, I push on through the botanical beauty all around me. I pass through the wistful wisteria tunnel where The Superjesus once played. I pass by a lily-fringed lake followed by a German lantern-like structure: the Palm House. Soon, I reach the Garden of Health. Beds of herbaceous plants ensnare my reverence with mathematical structures and artistic colours, their little blue signs bearing scientific names that remain just out of focus. I finally reach the north end of the botanic gardens and then exit via the revolving gate: a monumental, metallic artwork lush with gorgeous ginkgo leaf patterns. At last, I approach the grey-green grounds of the academy. I’m on the cusp of submitting my thesis for a PhD in Pharmacy.


Stereo Story #664

Michael Leach is an academic at Monash Rural Health, Bendigo. His poems reside in Rabbit, Cordite, Meniscus, Stereo Stories, the 2021 Hippocrates Prize Anthology, and elsewhere. Michael’s poetry collections include Chronicity (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020) and Natural Philosophies (Recent Work Press, forthcoming). He lives on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung Country.