Published in Overland Issue 248 Spring 2022 · Poetry Poetry | The medical man Isabel Prior After Bruce Dawe Outside of work he enjoyed swimming and the stoic philosophers. He’d offered to help with my cover letter—Friday morning’s flurry of pre-Christmas discharges having found us feet-up in the registrar room—and I’d ribbed him for this detail from his. The panel wants to see that you’re a real person, he’d shrugged, unabashed. Besides, it worked for me. On Sunday he was cut down from the poinciana, crumpling onto needle-dry grass, the branch’s recoil dusting him with flame-red flowers. He was the talk of the wards Monday. A reprieve from the bushfires that stencilled the east coast, satellite-vast. He’d just passed his exam. He was about to pop the question. To his peers it was a snub, that one day he should just cease to beat his wings and free- fall through the strata he’d striven to ascend. How he could send prizes and publications spiralling into the huge, hungry sky while the world burned and the CityCats cruised calmly on. Look after yourselves, enjoined Workforce, with another list of shifts that needed filling over Christmas. Whispers quickened in the corridors, south-easterly, now west—the pair of wardies lamenting the waste, the nurses padding gauzy recollections with Facebook photos (Dark curls, third from the right, remember?), the surgeon in the lift (If you can’t take the heat …). There’d be a chapel service at his old school, where clammy boys in too-big blazers would read from Meditations, their futures fanned towards them like smoke. At Wednesday’s morning tea we cradled styrofoam cups, platitudes snagging in the tinsel overhead. I was weightless with exhaustion, having worked late on my CV, and for a flickering second I thought I heard the dauntless, terrified shout of a curly-haired boy bomb-diving through time, face freckled with burst capillaries. I paused, lamington aloft, but then he was gone and so was I, my pager having summoned me elsewhere. Isabel Prior Isabel Prior is a junior doctor from Brisbane who has been published in Westerly and Best Australian Poems 2021. More by Isabel Prior › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 3 November 20233 November 2023 · Poetry our neighbours poem Ender Başkan our neighbours face appears above the fence – hello. our neighbours have a chat with us. our neighbours learn our names. our neighbours become our friends. our neighbours landlord thinks the market is ripe. our neighbours are told to leave. our neighbours try to buy their house at an exorbitant price to keep their kids in the school zone. our neighbours are denied. First published in Overland Issue 228 25 October 202325 October 2023 · Poetry The inhabitants Elif Sezen I died today, among many others, my grandpa died too, and our neighbours, / my best friend, the one with braided hair yes, and our sweet sweet doctors, / our motherly nurses... We heard a blast, then a whoosh of some kind, / and all gone.