By Penny Boxall
What Came First
It was the first fine day.
Not even hot – just that the sky
had broken to show itself, modestly,
startlingly blue. We watched through
the high classroom windows, the shuddering
of cloud and sky. After break, we filed
down the lane to the burn behind the village.
It was overgrown, dank with weed,
and the trunks were mossy, moist
to the touch. Someone called us –
held a bird’s nest, complete with egg,
an almost-dome inside an O.
â€œLook, the bird has left the edge
so neat, as if it sliced it, somehow.â€
The teacher balanced it
and drew us back to school –
where we found the egg gone.
Emptied, the twigs and hair
were no more than a palm,
an open grasp like the one
which took mine one afternoon
and led me to the staffroom
when I cried for the end.
She handed me a strawberry tart – said,
â€œHe’s in heaven now,â€ not adding,
as I thought she would,
â€œif there is a heaven.â€ I studied
the crown of berries,
their rich sauce, wondering
if I should eat it if I could not say for sure.
© Penny Boxall 2010