… I latched onto the word,

gentle, realising we wanted gentle truth

Mhairi Murphy by Kath Warren, courtesy of the Scottish Writers’ Centre

‘Therapy’ by Mairi Murphy

Originally published by Read Raw Press


The only time I ever saw my sister

rattled: “Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

that was one scary woman!” she said

as we left the office of the Hungarian

doctor, whose version of truth was

so brutal, it was bone marrow aching.


And we made faces every time she

passed, having a laugh, whispering

behind her back, a teacher that we didn’t

like, talking trivia and Lorraine Kelly over

our books, as we renovated our houses, saw

coats we wanted to buy, escaped for lunch.


Yet the nurse said, “This is a gentle form of

treatment,” and I latched onto the word,

gentle, realising we wanted gentle truth:

dripping slow, dripped into my sister, gently.

Curative truth, restorative truth, not the

“I’m so honest you won’t have to sue,” truth.


And as for telling the truth, that’s fourteen

years away, releasing the words my frightened

jaw won’t say, on some unsuspecting poetry class.

Emerging from the shadowlands, this toxic cloud,

will peacefully dissipate, lose its power to dominate,

allow my sister and I laughter in some future tense.


Mairi Murphy graduated last autumn from Glasgow University with a Masters in Creative Writing. Whilst there she was awarded the 2016 Alistair Buchan Prize for poetry for which two of her poems were also shortlisted. Recently her poems have been published in ‘Shetland Create’, ‘From Glasgow to Saturn’ and ‘Crooked Holster (an anthology of crime). She is the editor of ‘Glasgow Women Poets’ published by Four-em Press in 2016, of which she is the co-founder.





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