You Can'T Kill Squitch


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'.

by Keith Shorrocks Johnson

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