Exploring the Pantry Shelf by Christopher Morley

(A Continuation of the Cockroach Nursery Rhyme)

Rockabye, insect, lie low in thy den,
Father’s a cockroach, mother’s a hen.
And Betty, the maid, doesn’t clean up the sink,
So you shall have plenty to eat and to drink.

Hushabye, insect, behind the mince pies:
If the cook sees you her anger will rise;
She’ll scatter poison, as bitter as gall,
Death to poor cockroach, hen, baby and all.
There was a gay henroach, and what do you think,
She lived in a cranny behind the old sink—
Eggshells and grease were the chief of her diet;
She went for a stroll when the kitchen was quiet.

She walked in the pantry and sampled the bread,
But when she came back her old husband was dead:
Long had he lived, for his legs they were fast,
But the kitchen maid caught him and squashed him at last.
I knew a black beetle, who lived down a drain,
And friendly he was though his manners were plain;
When I took a bath he would come up the pipe,
And together we’d wash and together we’d wipe.

Though mother would sometimes protest with a sneer
That my choice of a tub-mate was wanton and queer,
A nicer companion I never have seen:
He bathed every night, so he must have been clean.

Whenever he heard the tap splash in the tub
He’d dash up the drain-pipe and wait for a scrub,
And often, so fond of ablution was he,
I’d find him there floating and waiting for me.

But nurse has done something that seems a great shame:
She saw him there, waiting, prepared for a game:
She turned on the hot and she scalded him sore
And he’ll never come bathing with me any more.

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