Backyard Massacre

By Tessa Stickland | @tessa_sticks
Illustration | Sarah Loo 

Secateurs are the weapon of choice

In my haphazard attack on the garden


There is an invasive vine, leeching onto other plants,



I slice and tear it from its hosts

It bleeds milky white sap

Thick and gummy

And cold.

A drop marks my jumper


The Good Vine is under foreign occupation,

But that doesn’t give it the right

To assault my disused trampoline.

With its sunshine yellow flowers

Don’t make me go easy on it.

It hangs off the garage, creating a walkway

Which I trim along as I

Walk and clip and walk and clip

And walk and my shoes clip-clop


I catch my reflection in a window

Blood is thinly smeared across my check

It’s origin: my palm.

They’re fighting back.


The conquering vine is up high

It clings tightly to a tree

Its older sections

Are thick, and dry, and have lost their colour

It has stretched itself

Across the plants by the side fence

I stretch my body to reach




Beads of sap

Lightly dot the tops of leaves below

White lays harshly on the green


The neighbour’s tree hangs

Over the back fence and into my yard

It is too close to the ground

I free it from the weight of its lower limbs

For its own good


Grass is covered in the debris of battle

Fresh wounds cover trees

Bark pulled back

Tender wood exposed


White blood of the hostile vine

Continues to leak

I wash my blades

Under the garden tap.

The metal is sticky

The sap looks a blue grey on the rust

It embraces my weapon,

Stubbornly, despite the pressure of the water.

I move in my fingers

They stroke the surface

And my thumb slips

I feel the metal under my skin

Chill water rushes over my hand

I look at the cut

There is nothing

I sigh in relief

But – then the blood oozes,

In brilliant red,

Before thinning and washing down the drain

I take my hand out of the water

It hasn’t stopped

It seeps down my hand,

Water and blood.

Drops stain my jumper

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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