19th January 1996 at 00:00

The ground dry and brown

The twigs crackle underfoot

And the acorns crush.

In woven baskets

The acorns sit, lime green grapes,

While spiders crawl.

Scuttling along,

Busy crawling between twigs

The soundless spiders.

The honesty twigs

Like tiny, papery crisps

Leafless and fragile.

The leaves brown and dry

Feint, touch-definable veins

Now gold and dying.

Now in the autumn

The leaves and plants are dying

Leaves curl, and twigs crack.

The golden acorn

And the dry honesty twigs

The signs of autumn.

By Anna McCartney aged 14, who receives Poems on the Underground (Cassell). Submitted by Sophie Smiley of Netherhall School, Cambridge, whoreceives the Poetry Society's teachers' newsletter. For Poetry Society events ring 0171-240 4810.

Reading submissions for this slot, I've been powerfully reminded of the value of haiku as an exercise for student writers. It gives them the discipline of a form, without having to worry about metre, and it encourages observation. This renga (a series of haiku) isn't flawless but there are many more good lines than weak ones, and individual stanzas do what haiku is meant to do - capture a moment in the natural world.

Congratulations to Anna, and to the English department at Netherhall, which sent in several other good poems as well.

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