Fall/Winter 2015-2016

Brian Johnstone


The case of the leprophils…the sisters who sometimes resent leprosy being cured , Graham Green, Congo Journal

A cure is to be wished for,
yet she fears it gives her pain;
the same, though to a less degree,
she feels on seeing beds new bought
defiled by those she would profess
to care for. The doctor is extravagant,
she says, and so she tells the sick
to lie upon the boards for fear of
wearing out the sheets, despoiling
mattresses that charity, hard won,
has brought their way.

And never does a day go by
she doesn’t feel resentment
somewhere deep within her soul,
for those who walk out of the gates
not whole, but free of the disease
she’s sure her place is to provide
the succour for. A cure, it’s true,
is greatly to be wished for – her own,
for some hard sickness of the heart:
supply of those who need her,
need her martyrdom the more.

First published in Glasgow Review

Brian Johnstone’s work has appeared throughout Scotland, in the UK, North America and Europe. He has published six collections, most recently Dry Stone Work (Arc, 2014), and his poetry appears on the UK Poetry Archive website. A founder and former Director of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, he has read at festivals from Macedonia to Nicaragua, and venues across the UK. brianjohnstonepoet.co.uk



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