A poem by Diana Woodcock

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2 min read
Diana Woodcock

Terfeziaceae, Tamarix gallica or Acacia erioloba

               Qur’anic name – al mann

               Arabic name – turanjabin or kazanjbin

               Qur’an reference – 2:61


Was it the desert truffle, 

all these three thousand years 

known to be edible, 


or the sweet gum from the tamarisk tree,

insects – Coccus manniparus – 

puncturing the bark,


releasing the saccharine exudate?

Or was it Camel’s thorn?

Or perhaps simply the name


for all strange nourishment 

the Israelites found during exile* –

manna meaning what is it? in Hebrew.


Today is it the Kurdish manna,

produced from a desert shrub,

Haloxylon salicornicum?


Dried sap, or honeydew excreted 

by bugs who eat the sap? 

Point is no matter what it is or was,


manna came and was obtained 

without struggle or strain, 

keeping humans alive to thrive


and tell their story. Glory 

be to the Sustainer of all life,

Creator of all matter and manna.   



*             Israelites in exile/desert Sinai complained about manna, longing for the food of Egypt. Old Testament reference: Numbers 11:5-6.

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Diana Woodcock is the author of many chapbooks and poetry collections, most recently Heaven Underfoot, winner of the 2022 Codhill Press Pauline Uchmanowicz Poetry Award, and Holy Sparks. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she holds a PhD in creative writing from Lancaster University where she researched poetry’s role in the search for an environmental ethic.