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A Sticky Story

April 3, 2020


Okay, this happened to me yesterday. Just sharing in a light-hearted spirit of gratitude for my personal situation as well as for the extraordinarily lucky circumstances we find ourselves in here in Aotearoa New Zealand (as opposed to somewhere like Syria, or in a boat on the coast of Greece, or in the slums of Kathmandu). My family and I are lucky enough to live near the hills where we can walk and to come back to a lovely warm house where we can isolate ourselves from others worse off, but sometimes the unexpected happens ...


Sticky Situation

for Jeremy


My knees are knobbly

like sticks, and our family

went for a walk yesterday

along a straight track above

the Lyttelton Tunnel motorway,

straight as a stick with nodules

and bends and splits in it,

splits that had opened

in the earthquake ten years before

where under-rivers had since

gouged out holes for stepping around,


but the other week we watched

a digger from our lounge

fill the cracks with its crooked arm

like a branching stick,

and so when we reached

the section that had been overgrown

with Lucerne trees, fennel and

broom up to my chest,

the digger had made a path

lined with broken sticks


and the twiggy muehlenbeckia

was making a comeback, a vine

not really a stick, that wired

and matted over the scrub,

before I saw the cut end of a stick

on the path and a flash of terror

like light through trees

struck, the pain of a sharp stick

through bare skin, and the moment

I could choose to step across

to the path where Zip

was walking, clearer of sticks,

before the stick struck


and I was crying Oh oh

and pinching the skin near my shin

to hold the flaps together

over the hole where the stick

had gouged and blood pooled

in an under-river and dripped

over my sock while Zip knelt

and said sit down so I can see

the damage of the stick


and Rata said I can’t look

but you can use your fleece

tied round your waist

which I did, and Zip knotted tight

as a tourniquet wound up

with a stick, and then I lay down

in the dried grass stalks

that felt like sticks at the side

of the motorway, and waited for Zip

to return in his non-stick Nissan,

from which I could phone

After Hours or our neighbour

the doc, who in our 18 years

as neighbours we’d never called

over our fence of sticks



but since it was the days

of two-meter measuring sticks

and lockdowns, I envisioned

the nurses dressed like riot police

with thermometers long as batons,

and I called Jeremy the doc,

who soon after pulled into

our driveway after a day in the sticks

at his clinic in Belfast, and Zip

brought out the boiled water

and cotton buds that had stick potential

for poking and jabbing, while I sat

on the landing outside our door,


and Jeremy at a distance

of two sticks poked and

jabbed, disinfected and stuck

my hole together with sticky tape

while I grit and wished

to bite on a stick,

and then he said,

there’ll be no walking for a bit

and I thanked the doctor

for I was never so glad to have

such a good stick in our neck

of the woods.


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