I originally wanted to be a witch
Sitting inside a Leiden jar
In the pathology museum.
My fallback application
Was to be one of those nuns in La Dolce Vita
In an enormous starched wimple
Like the collar of Philip II
As if my head was something that had fallen into a serviette.
I wanted to be Dr Zhivago
And have a Russian mistress on a sledge.
As psychiatrist I would rescue an enchanted mad princess
From a tower in a wood
Where the senior registrar was making curry.
About this poem
Miles Burrows was born in Leicester. Studied Classics and Medicine at Oxford. Worked as doctor in New Guinea Highlands and also on Thai-Laos border. Currently in Cambridge, GP. Published collection of poems with Jonathan Cape, and also reviewed books for New Statesman. Recent poems in PNR, Poetry Review, TLS. Anthologised in British Poetry since 1945 (Penguin). Also selected for Best Poems of 2015 (Salt). Won awards in Hippocrates competition for Poetry in Medicine.
This poem is one of the editors’ highlighted selection of poems from an open call for readers’ proposals for the second edition of Tools of the Trade: Poems for new doctors.