You dream of cottongrass
of threaded ghosts of baby’s hair,
white water spilled on blackstone grit.
You know that you will never know
where your boy is, has been
this forty year and more;
you know this as you know
the iron and salt of hot rare meat
the smell of his skull, his skin.
Thin winds pick among the rags
and bones of brittle heather,
sunken jaggers’ roads;
trouble dammed black waters,
the sour weeping of turned turfs
that won’t give up what’s held
where men in raincoats walk
in ragged lines with long white rods
testing the depth and smell
of the peat the way a shepherd
probes drifted Pennine snow
for buried sheep that eat their own fleece
You knew such things could be,
breathed vowels. Air.
Now you know nothing else —
the texture of a house
this pale moth-knowing
in a shadowed room,
ringed by black moors, dark humps:
tumbled cairns that mock
the lost, that will not show the way
(First published in “Much Possesssed” smith|doorstop 2016)
At the time of her death in 2012, almost 50 years after Keith went missing, her son, Allan said:
“Winnie fought tirelessly for decades to find Keith and give him a Christian burial.
“Although this was not possible during her lifetime, we, her family, intend to continue this fight now for her and for Keith. We hope that the authorities and the public will support us in this.”
Ian Brady died in prison today, without ever revealing where Keith lies buried.
One thought on “For Winnie Johnson and Keith Bennett”