Audio Poetry

Nature Study by Moyra Donaldson

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Nature Study

Nature Study

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.