In 1991 I was presented with a Blackthorn which bears a silver ferrule engraved with a message from the team who gave it to me. The stick is beautiful, 91cm of deep black knobbly Blackthorn with a marbled golden brown root ball for a handle and a brass ferrule to protect the foot end when being used.
Of all the military keepsakes I was given, which included several marvellous limited edition statuettes; this one is my favourite. As a young man I believed I would never need it but it got lugged around the world as I travelled with the Army.
Following the accident I began to use the Blackthorn, I quickly learnt that it had a little trick up its ferrule. The root ball handle would wear a small hole in my hand if I leaned too heavily or used it too much. I took this as inspiration, understanding it to mean “hey you, you've got your own legs - use them!”
Unfortunately my condition worsened and I have regressed to using two sticks and now carry a small lump of hardened skin in the palm of my hand! That said one of my current pain management goals is to be able to 'park' the sticks in the shell case in the corner of the hall untill I am an old man.
Over the weekend I attended an excellent poetry workshop which was hosted by Livia Bluecher and Candy Neubert and sponsored by the Guernsey Arts Commission. As one of the exercises I was asked to write a poem on the loss an object feels when its owner leaves it. My Blackthorn was beside me as I wrote this;
We spent many hours together
on the cliffs or in the heather.
I bore your weight, steadied you,
quietly listened to you,
and checked the path.
You held me in your hand
as we plucked blackberries out of reach.
You pulled me up
when I sank in sand on the beach.
Your hand warmed me on icy days,
took comfort from my strength.
and propped beside your stripped bed,
my handle gathers dust.
My silver ferrule, so lovingly polished, tarnished.
To them I am a stick.
To you I was freedom;
you shared your life with me,
you gave this blackthorn reason.