Nature Study

Tim Prentki
Just in Time




Nature Study

Inked trails of choking smoke
Cloud the sky-line.
Disinfectant at the farmyard gate
Carries trace-memories of school or hospital.
Hand to mouth daily struggle dissolves
In foot and mouth’s despair.
 
Blue tongue took the sheep
And all the pigs caught flu.
Myxomatosis killed the rabbits.
Now corona’s come for me and you.
Its clammy claws clasps our mortality,
Ripping at personal, protective equipment:
House, car, phone, stuff.
Watching woods burning and oceans churning;
Still not learning: we are animals.
 
Greedy and selfless;
Arrogant and humble;
Ignorant and imaginative;
Self-conscious and empathic –
Yet still animals.
 
Nature is not outside,
Nor is it a tourist ride.
Nature is not conservation,
Nor environmentalists’ peroration.
Nature’s the rut
That put us here.
Nature’s the genome,
Stirring hope with fear.
Unnatural species though we are,
Now set our course by a different star.



Tim Prentki is Professor Emeritus of Theatre for Development (University of Winchester). He is a director, playwright, actor, and author of a wide range of critical and creative works.