* How was my tree born?
in my flowery back yard.
When was it born?
On the 17th of March.
My tree can see
little insects and children playing.
* Soon it was as tall as two buses
as high as three houses
as huge as a giant.
My tree can hear
laughter and shouting.
My tree can feel
the calm breeze and loneliness
* Now it can see
roofs of houses, tops of woods.
Now it can smell
all the smoke from the fire.
Now it can hear
firewood chopping, factories churning.
* What does my tree like doing?
Singing in the wind, swaying when it's happy.
What scares my tree?
Thunder, lightning, men going chop.
There's a storm up ahead my tree hopes it's just rain.
* My tree dies in the storm
falling down onto dad's shed.
My tree dies at eleven pm.
in the rain with the moon listening brightly.
Lucy Howell, aged nine, Canon Pickering junior school, Harleston, Norfolk.
This wonderful poem really makes us think about what it might be like to be a tree, and at the same time remind us of childhood. It is a very visual poem; the reader can see what the writer sees. The style of asking and then answering questions works well, involving us, making us think that we are part of nature too. Calling the tree "my tree" is a lovely touch. The poem uses all of the five senses to great effect. When the tree dies in the storm, the ending is dramatic as well as sad. Lucy has achieved what many writers strive to achieve: she has shown us the tree. She hasn't told us. She has let the images gather strength and speak for themselves.
Lucy Howell receives The Oldest Girl in the World, by Carol Ann Duffy (Faber). Her poem was submitted by Marilyn Watts. Jackie Kay is the TES guest poetry critic for the coming term. Her most recent collection of poetry for children, The Frog who Dreamed she was an Opera Singer, won the Signal Award. Please send poems, no longer than 20 lines, to Friday magazine, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Include the poet's name, age and address, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. Or email:firstname.lastname@example.org