The heron’s the look of the river.
The moon’s the look of the night.
The sky’s the look of forever.
Snow is the look of white.
The bees are the look of the honey.
The wasp is the look of pain.
The clown is the look of funny.
Puddles are the look of rain.
The whale is the look of the ocean.
The grave is the look of the dead.
The wheel is the look of motion.
Blood is the look of red.
The rose is the look of the garden.
The girl is the look of the school.
The snake is the look of the Gorgon.
Ice is the look of cool.
The clouds are the look of the weather.
The hand is the look of the glove.
The bird is the look of the feather.
You are the look of love.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2008. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editors in 2008 were Rosemary Goring and Alan Taylor.
This infectious children’s poem has echoes of Lear’s nonsense verses, but is in fact as serious as it is fun. Duffy is superb at getting straight to the heart of her subject. She is surely one of the most direct and vivid of contemporary poets, and never more so than when writing for a young audience. Here, using a mesmerising chant of a rhythm, she captures the way that certain creatures and objects define the world around them, whether it’s snow as the epitome of white, or a hand reminding her of a glove, rather than the other way round. Zippy, sharp and tender, this poem makes your feet tap.