A tick is a bug that sucks up meaning,
A tiny check-mark on the skin
That no amount of language-cleaning
Will ever dislodge now it’s sunk its snout in.
A facial tic on our pristine tongue
Of too many meanings from a single noun –
Oh for a language that’s regular and young
Before the parasites invaded the town.
We use words on tick, to be paid for later,
Like the stuffing in a tick-case that is already frayed,
Or the ticks on a rule till the namesakes are greater
And we’ve spewed-out enough for a tickertape parade.
It ticks us off that such gaudy schlocks lurk,
But they’ve plagued us forever, siphoning their fraction –
Older than moments, older than clockwork,
The tick is as ancient as Anglo-Saxon.
‘Tick’ is also a Middle English word for goat (whose latter name is even older), and though thoroughly out-of-use can still be found in placenames such as Tickenhurst.
Incidentally, what does a twitcher call the first whinchat of the year ? A tick tick.