John McCullagh March 16, 2008
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When first he saw the growing stick

my father was a youngish man

he got a spade and dug it out,

then cut it – for to fit his hand.

He took it home to straighten it

and eyed it through – till it was good

his penknife carved the handle out

his hard hands polished up the wood.


For twenty years he carried it,

on Sunday walks and evening strolls

for twenty more it carried him,

as time slipped by – and he grew old.

 

The last few years spent by his side,

his walks now – from the chair to bed

until, in time, like all God’s things

the stick laid down – and he was dead.

 

I took it home to ease my grief

and bring back cherished memories

the handle almost fit my hand

and now it walked the roads with me.
 

Then time moved on, and life’s demands

were many, so my walks were gone

for years it slumbered – lost from sight

and I forgot it.  I moved on.
 

One day my son passed out the door,

I blinked to clear my eyes of sand

yet there he stood, up at the gate,

the old stick balanced in his hand.
 

I saw that it seemed shorter now,

so slightly twisted, bent with time

as all things that have toiled for years,

yet kept their strength still – aged – like wine.


And then the handle filled his hand

as it had filled my father’s, too

the old work horse grew straight once more,

then took him off on rambles new.

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Liam was inspired to write his poem when he read an article on ‘Making a Blackthorn’ here.

 

 

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