The Hamstring Cup

MS 2/11/21*

Matt Stewart

We jumped and,
letting go of my care,
the fair-skinned four-year-old
rejected the sunblock,
sprinted for the future
on the beach of
our ingrained kinship.
 
I wouldn’t have it
and spurred to get my nose
in front of “Old Me”
to clench the boy’s shoulder
and de-risk big C’s chance
of besting him lifelong
in dozens of flagellated contests
down the track.
 
The gap was closing
so I went for the whip,
only to have my age
pull me up lame
in the straight.
*Melbourne Cup Day 2021

Contextual Essay: The main way that I have been able to give to those I love is to gift them some of my time rather than buying presents. To be with children helps me to recall the innocence of childhood and the enjoyment of place, which was so elemental to my early years exploring and playing within my habitat. Therefore in my poem, while direct mention of my grandchildren may be fleeting, it does not mean that the emotional effect of acting in a place with them is small or insignificant for me.

The activities I refer to in my poetry, such as sitting underwater in a creek pool or running after a child, may be seen as childish and foolhardy. But the thrill of doing that engages an energy of body and mind which, even if causing me an injury, are nevertheless both timeless and memorable. There is also the added benefit that the occasions have been useful as a catalyst for positive self-reflection and learning.    


Matt lives off-grid on acreage in the Wollumbin (Mt Warning) caldera very close to the Border Ranges in Northern NSW. He loves writing poetry, reading and music and sings inand plays percussion for a local choir. Matt has read his poems at several meetings of Poets Out Loud in Murwillumbah. He is one of a small group of poets who have been meeting monthly to workshop each other’s pieces for the last 4 years. They are putting out a chapbook containing some of their pieces titled “Five by Five” in 2022.

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