Local Lines : Cracker night at Crouch’s

May 25th, 2020Local Lines : Cracker night at Crouch’s

Bill Wootton lives in Hepburn Springs and has not lit a fuse for 50 years.

Crowded with Lego pieces and meccano whatsits,

Crouch’s kitchen bristled red and yellow.

Waxed Home Pride bread wrapping added orange.

Jamie leaned over the mottled laminex table, wheezing.

From somewhere under the house an engine burbled.

Jamie’s mother could be heard pottering, somewhere else.

Let’s go outside, I suggested.

Hunks of fibreglass and metal

landmined the unmowed backyard

Footwear was essential. No back fence

marked off the yard from the lane behind.

The very place for Guy Fawkes Night.

Jumping Jacks popping on cracked concrete,

the cordite stench of exploded penny bungers,

eyes hauling into night sky tracking skyrockets

launched from a brown beer bottle or lead pipe

by Jamie’s older brother, Peter, obeying the directive to

‘Ignite the blue touch-paper and retire.’

The bedrock bonfire blazed and sputtered,

fed by garden trimmings and grey fence palings.

Sparkler-lit words hung in the air while thoughts fizzed.

A Catherine Wheel, nailed to the garage door,

shed coloured sparks as it twirled and spat,

leaving things not-quite-dark when it finished.

Stringy, grey-white wicks linked our

rippling green and red cracker keyboards.

Jamie, bolting back from the detonation zone,

lost a thong and never broke stride, landing

back in it with his next still-running step.

He stood, heaving, in his oversized hand-me-down shorts.

The yard a week later still bore cracker detritus,

remains of red print on damaged white paper,

door scorch-marks, broken glass.

Jamie plodded back to his Lego bricks.

Started snivelling again.

Mrs Crouch somewhere inside.

– Bill Wootton

Bill Wootton lives in Hepburn Springs and has not lit a fuse for 50 years.

Poems for Local Lines come predominantly from a group of poets. However, other locals who would like a poem considered for publication can contact Bill Wootton – cottlesbreedge@gmail.com

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