An Ode to Sticks by James Elliott

Sticks. Sticks are great. Sticks are sublime.
They come in all shapes and sizes, so long as that shape is a line.
They first gave us food as ant eating monkeys,
And attached to a tree, a stick can be swung to.
But free on the ground to carry these broken trees, enabled our imaginations to fly free with ease. A good tool of defence, they could be thrown, or could be swung,
Sharpened points or blunt ends; the difference between a tribal feud lost, or won.

A paintbrush to tell stories untold;
To see our dreams with our eyes, and bring warmth to the cold.
One dimensional in its mode of existence – a line, a stroke, a club, gripped by four fingers and opposable thumb; don’t suppose this is dumb, for this tool has lingered, and this tool has won.

We have sticks that bring us fish,
Sticks that give us light,
Sticks to write down ideas,
Sticks to win fights.
Sticks to eat food and sticks to rule lines,
Sticks to measures distances, and sticks that unwind.
Sticks to eat, to smoke, to paint, and to breathe;
To learn, to dig, to scratch, to see beneath what our eyes can believe,
We have sticks to hunt and kill, cut to wound, but also to heal.

Sticks hold signs, and show time to let us pause, stop, turn off and rewind.
We have sticks for the day and sticks for the night;
We have sticks as babies, as children, as teenagers, and as adults;
we have sticks welcoming us into the dying light †

But remember that sticks are older than Christ.
They’re older than corn, clothes, cows, and rice.
We’ve needed sticks, and sticks have needed us,
For without a hand to hold them, sticks would be nothing but lines in the dust.

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