Now and Then
This child was thrashed to death for thieving, lying
and filthy habits which, the father said,
were driving him and her mother nearly mad.
The neighbours say: We knew that she was dying—
skin, bone and scared eyes, moving like a mouse
in the dusk of walls, craved scraps of food and love
—a sweet little girl—hanging’s not bad enough—
But who can know the darkness of that house?
A black brew of stupidity, distilled
through stunted generations; yet moving in it
a blindworm urge to love makes for a minute
contact, perhaps; lost that, sinks choked and chilled,
changes to hate—for much more than each other:
for life, which that lost spark has shown as spoiled.
This darkness then was visited on the child;
until they killed her, and the police took over.