17 February 2010


It’s difficult not to be curious
about this bone-man under the skin:
to think how he’s carried me over the years
without malice or contempt. In return
I’ve fed and clothed him of course,
shared the same bed, been shaped by his will,
but even after a lifetime together
I can’t say I know him, not for real . . .
apart, that is, from a broken wrist
when he once came peeping through.
And now there’s this inner-map of his ills,
that ageing stoop, those honeycombed hips,
the thinning tail-end bits. But what
really appals is his Model-T look.
He’s indistinguishable — except to the nurse —
From the millions like him who’ve come and gone
since one of us first stood up. Perhaps
it’s time to applaud his ancestral support
and keep this negative by the bed. Even then
it’ll be tough to view that crumbling master-plan
without a more personal sense of loss.

By Peter Bland

From Best New Zealand Poems 2003

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