Do kids toys give you the heebie-jeebies sometimes? If so, do not read this late at night.
"Take a torch!" they yelled
"And mind how you step!"
As if I needed any reminding,
How many times had I schlepped,
That faltering Duracell
In my bone-tight grasp, the
Bulb barely blinding
The grasshoppers, the slugs or
The Hungry Caterpillars.
"Alright! Alright!" came my retort,
Barely caught in the air
Between the blazing light
Of the dining room
And the gloom of winter like a cloak
That wrapped around me tight,
A silken lining of unadulterated night
Slipping over my head, shoulders knees and toes,
Knees and toes.
I suppose I was a little,
How to put it,
That starless night
As I plunged down the lane,
Left following right,
Humming a trill,
From where? Who can guess,
"Jack and Jill went up the hill".
Until something stopped me dead.
In the pale and futile glow,
On the path just ahead... malevolently so,
Was a plastic horse. Cherry-poppy red,
With a shining mane, and glossy wheels.
The kind of toy you'd find in Hamley's
If not Heal's for your fine little Lady,
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes.
I stood, just froze. And then, ever so slowly,
edged my way over the sleat bitten ground
to stand right in front of this thing I had found.
This alien piece of ungodly tack.
So deliberately placed in the pathway like that.
A sickly sneer on it's preposterous face,
"Come off it!" I snorted, disgraced with myself.
Remembering the children who play by the moat -
Ring a ring 'o roses, Gruff billy goats.
I booted the horse, with an almighty kick.
Serve the kids right, I thought
Leaving their toys for people to trip.
I continued my walk.
Skirting the lip of the moat so familiar by day,
So treacherous by night. A monsterous black maw
Like the mouth of a beast,
Road to no place, gullet of Hell.
Down will come baby, cradle and all.
The curdling shriek cut through bitter air,
My hair standing upright, like snakes ill at ease...
"Where? Where are you?"
My voice petrified, caught in my throat.
The voice had come from below,
From down in the moat.
"Hello? Where are you?!" I repeated,
Louder this time.
But no sound returned, only the wine
Of the wind as it billowed through tall naked trees...
I sunk to the ground, on hands and on knees
As the branches around collided and cracked
I'll tell you this, I was now ill at ease.
My face inched over the mud parapet,
The same phrase repeated "Where are you?" I said.
A Child's voice, perhaps eight or nine,
Whispered so softly my neck had to strain
"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
All the King's horses and all the King's men..."
It took them three days to find my body.