sixty-six dollars for the Sanford workers in Timaru & Bluff

we quarrelled on the steps of our house,
me overbearing, softly spoken & sure.
I left thinking what for
but couldn’t turn the car around once more.

in town S was there early,
I was surprised, tongue-tied & vague.
we unloaded the signs:
aaaaaaaSupport Sanford Workers,
aaaaaaaSix Weeks—No Income,
aaaaaaaFreedom to Strike.
they were awkward, difficult to handle.
I strained, cursed & wondered.

ten dollars was pushed into my hand—
we had hardly finished setting up!
ten dollars for the Sanford workers
way down in Timaru & Bluff.
more followed,
from a journalist with the Northern Advocate,
from a woman who lost her house in a mortgage sale,
her husband had been locked out
by the owners of the Glenbrook steel mill.
I spoke to an old guy who went on strike
in support of the wharfies in ’51,
he was a freezing worker then.
history—warm, alive & unrepentant.

still, the best part of the day
was counting the money at home together,
both of us enthusiastic:
sixty-six dollars for the Sanford workers in Timaru & Bluff.

Published in the New Zealand Listener, October 20-26, 2001.