You Can'T Kill Squitch
by Keith Shorrocks Johnson
Her father died when she was three years old
Beached and bloated in his sea captain's coat
Her mother made a poor job of widowhood
Taking to dark colours and languishing.
Lacking attention and prone to tempers
She grew, ache hurt wounded and wilful.
As a child I was always under her feet
Too much seen but scarcely heard
A boy of few words who slipped away to read
Or took the dog over the fields for long walks
And dreaded coming back to tirades
Lashing the farmhouse beams with fury.
But I used to love to hear her laugh
Telling or savouring a naughty tale
And waited so eagerly for letters
In her bold strong hand on Basildon Bond
Telling of wet harvests and point to points
Hatching, matching and dispatching.
We never got on well though I tried hard
She always looked for openings to weakness
I was too soft and never stood up to her
Easily persuaded I was wrong and she supreme
Afraid to have it out once and for all
In case she burst into ragged, raging tears.
I wanted to go beyond and share her fear
But she was too sly and proud to come clean
And I was left never having known the girl
Who played and swam from the riverside
In distant summers late evenings
Baked as brown as a hawthorn berry.
These are the clumps that grow wherever my land
Hard to uproot and quick to break and bind
If you want me again look deep and delve
Take the stem and trace the broken ends
Though the rough grass still strikes and tangles
As she would say: ‘You can't kill squitch'.