There is a small fox
slipping through the fabric of morning,
still coated in a layer of grey dusk
and carefully placing his paws
between what’s left of night
in the garden.
There is a monkey,
a stained toy, in your hand
when you arrive at the hospital,
which none of the fussing people
and you had clung to.
There are wild-eyed soldiers’ horses,
charging at us from the jigsaw pieces
in the waiting room
where we try to sleep
on the table and chairs
and pretend we’re not waiting.
There are several pigeons
on the window ledge, shuffling about
before the steel chimneys and pinking sky
and a seagull’s bark
in the deflated quiet
just after you die.
There is an overfed cat
in the arms of a nurse who smokes
by the automatic doors.
and there are baby rabbits
eating the grass verges
of the hospital car park.
There is our dog
at the door, confused
when we get home without you.
And on the kitchen table we sit at, dazed
and not quite real, with cups of tea to hold on to,
there is a small plastic horse.
About this poem
This poem is included in the second edition of Tools of the Trade: Poems for new doctors (Scottish Poetry Library, 2016). The anthology was edited by Kate Hendry; Dr Lesley Morrison, GP; Dr John Gillies, GP and Chair, Royal College of GPs in Scotland (2010-2014); Revd Ali Newell, and Lilias Fraser. A copy of the first edition was given to all graduating doctors in Scotland in 2014 and 2015, and with support from RCGPS and the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland, to all graduating doctors in 2016, 2017 and 2018. We are very grateful for the individual donations which funded the cost of this anthology, and to the Deans of the Scottish medical schools who made it possible to give the books to their graduating students.