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Peter Pan and the Sword of Damocles

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

A short gulf flight links

the island whenua which feeds my youth

to an urban burden of care.

In a day, the harvest of twenty years

is shared with the needs of twenty patients

holding parts of broken stories,

hearing unspoken fears,

engaged through senses subjective as weather,

and I offer an uncertain science

distilled with what skill, what wisdom there is,

knowing a thousand grateful patients

cannot avert that one dread complaint.

There are slips, there will always be slips

and the hawk circles and waits.

The gulf is crossed

by a short flight

and the masks are switched.

I always lose my head on the Barrier,

the wild fickle coast enticing me

with exuberant promise.

A life jacket is all the wisdom needed

here, crashing my ocean kayak

out through the waves, the exhilaration

of the ride rising above the memory

of the last dumping.

Climbing the crumbling clay headland,

choosing exposed pōhutukawa roots

over the worn track, savouring small dangers

and habitually revisiting old predicaments,

what do I hope to prove?

A Peter Pan of petty adventure,

I pull a defiant cap over white hair,

but here there must be no slip

to the black rocks that wait below.

A short gulf flight

takes me back once more to the land

of patients, employees and care.

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