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Miss Walker taught us the names for things,
cobb, penn and cygnet, dray, sett, vixen,
leveret, vetch, ox-slip, nimbus, words that stuck
like robin-run-the-hedge on a cardigan.
She taught us how to recognise by shape
oval elm, fingered chestnut, coastline of oak.
We planted mustard seeds on blotting paper,
hyacinths in clear glass vases filled with water,
so we could watch roots grow downwards
while the flowers reached up. We saw the jam-
jarred frogspawn wriggle into life, the tadpole
budding limbs, amphibian gills to lungs.
At home I ate peas straight from their pods,
tart gooseberries, sweet strawberries, redcurrants
and rhubarb that mummy grew. I knew the smell
of ripening tomatoes, earthy new potatoes, hot
guts in a bucket when daddy killed a chicken
for our dinner, the carcass kept for soup, wishbone
kept till dry enough to snap: magic, running
its course, ordinary through the marrow of our life.