for Terence Brown
Seeing the bags of meal passed hand to hand
In close-up by the aid workers, and soldiers
Firing over the mob, I was braced again
With a grip on two sack corners,
Two packed wads of grain I’d worked to lugs
To give me purchase, ready for the heave –
The eye-to-eye, one-two, one-two upswing
On to the trailer, then the stoop and drag and drain
Of the next lift. Nothing surpassed
That quick unburdening, backbreak’s truest payback,
A letting go which will not come again.
Or it will, once. And for all.
About this poem
This poem is included in the anthology Tools of the Trade: Poems for new doctors (Scottish Poetry Library, 2014). The anthology was edited by Dr Lesley Morrison, GP; Dr John Gillies, GP and Chair, Royal College of GPs in Scotland, Rev Ali Newell, and Lilias Fraser. A copy was given to all graduating doctors in Scotland in 2014. 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.