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She has been here before but this is the first time

she has come with her son. The paths are gravelly.

They hold hands and walk towards the cast-iron fountain

where the cast-iron boy looks up towards the serpent as he has done

since before either of them were born. She looks down


at her son, hardly believing that this person was formed inside her

own self.  Seeing the fountain, he lets go her hand and runs towards

the jetting water, but when he spots some older boys on one

of the other paths he stops and saunters, hands in pockets.

She wonders at all the little snakes inside him.


She looks up as a jet plane unzips the bowling-bag sky.

It feels like something enormous is falling towards her.

She gasps as it thumps into her. She staggers

under the weight of it: one day they will both spin inside

that bag of planets, molecular and separate, light years apart. 


She turns back to her boy

the here and now of him

busy at the fountain

his hand in the water

stirring it into

                      a whirlpool







                                 b                   e

                                        b      l            .

Picture 1.jpg

The Boy and the Serpent

The Boy and the Serpent fountain can be seen in the Economic Garden which was established in 1872 by then director of the Adelaide Botanic Garden, Richard Schomburgk. Many of the trees planted at this time have been retained, as has the formal symmetrical structure. The fountain arrived in 1908. Money for the fountain was donated by the well-known Adelaide philanthropist, Robert Barr Smith, and it was imported from the famous Coalbrookdale ironworks in England. There are only two surviving fountains of this type in the world. The other is in the seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare in Somerset, England.

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