Botany for Children

The touseled children
have their own way
with trees,
their own classification…
(Chris Wallace-Crabbe, “Timber”)

Some are named for likeness
to familiar things: the lemon tree
in Nanna’s garden becomes
a prototype for all other trees
in all other gardens.

And some are named
by analogy or comparison:
big tree, little tree,
special tree; and what
is bottlebrush but a metaphor turned
to proper use?

Yet others gain
the specificity of the eager learner,
like Adam flushed
with the daily discovery of all
living things and growing things,

and as tongue learns it way
around the tangled mechanics of thought,
a surprise clarity: paperbark!
a joyful melaleuca.

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