Johnny Nick

He played with his paraffin engine
I tried to peg the rug—
the multicoloured rag squares
waiting to landscape the sacking.
I fed lumps of wet clothes
through the wringer
and watched the
flattened blobs emerge.
Johnny took the bowl.
The water hit the floor.
We hit each other.
Go out and play!

We made straight
for the bonfire
picked up red and
blackened spark
sticks—waved them
around and yelled
alley alley alley!

Jump through it—dare you!
The blast of the heat aura
burned my coat.
Now you’ll get it!
To the kitchen to quench the singe
but the errand forgot—
through the larder door
a view of taters and cheese—
a grabbed pan and back to the bonfire.
It smelled better out there
in the fresh air.
A melted mixture of
yellow and white layers
dusted with ash
dribbled down our chins.

A discovery shout
told us to drop
our fused banquet
and head for
the wash-house roof.

We crouched and giggled
and hid and crept
into crevice corners
until Johnny thought
it would be fun
to drop things
on their frantic heads.

They went for a ladder.
Now we will get it.
Get what?
We laughed—
it was worth it!