Posted by: John Looker | 24 March, 2019

The Naturalist


Spring unleashed: the valley green again,
    bird song contending in the clear air –
        and a boy turning over decaying logs.

How old the world is:
    this goldfinch a spark from the Cretaceous,
        these hills moulded by the last great ice age.

And the boy turning over logs
    (poised to seize that lizard
        or the beetle scrambling under moist leaves)

is one of the world’s newest tenants
    looking down at some of its oldest
        in wonder.

He might have been a young tribesman
    kneeling in the tinder-dry grass of the prairie
        keenly setting traps

or huntsman fingering fresh prints
    on a wet jungle track, his pulse quickening,
        and wondering, calculating.

He’s fired up with curiosity,
    hard-wired to observe, to deduce;
        he’s down close – but his mind is in orbit.


© John Looker 2018


Dedicated to a grandson and one of the poems in my recent book Poems for my Family (Bennison Books 2018, through Amazon).



  1. Don’t miss ‘Poems for my Family’ – a beautifully written gem of a collection:


  2. Lovely scientific and evocative poem here, John. I really enjoyed.


  3. I enjoyed the sense of the continuum which this poem conveys. Your reference to the boy as anchor and yet he too part of the cycle life gives it depth. A joy to read!


    • Thank you Jane – I’m really pleased you felt that it works.


  4. The clarity of the poems in Poems for My Family is just outstanding, John. This is just an example of that; it is a clarity that is startling, though, encompassing all of human time on earth in the actions of a young boy, capturing the essence, in many ways, of what makes us human while still acknowledging the vastness of time and the parade of humans through time. I know you wrote these poems for your family, but I would recommend buying the book to anyone. I did, and I am thrilled with the book.


    • That really is most kind of you Tom. Yes, this was written originally for my grandson and his parents, but Bennison Books persuaded me to make the collection public and I’m glad I did. You wrote a very kind review of the book on Amazon and I am most grateful to you for that too.


  5. Truly wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the way you offer us both ends of the telescope in physical and historical terms and always with a human touch. It gave me great pleasure.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really enjoyed this, John!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I absolutely love this, John. Sorry it’s taken me so long to find it; I’ve been lost in what’s laughably called the ‘real world’ of work for months and not had (or made) the time to read or write anything very much. But this is wonderfully detailed and properly inspiring.Thank you for sharing it. Nick.


    • Thank you Nick – and it’s good to hear from you again!


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