UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


'A burden, shared': A poem by Cameron Holleran

16 November 2017

IGP's Poet-in-Residence, Cameron Holleran, responds to the RELIEF research project.

Illustration by Satia Putra

A burden, shared

By Cameron Holleran, IGP Poet-in-Residence

Today, they play the host.
Take each plate in turn,
serve the food, take the second bite,
set up the punchline.
Wait for the laugh.
Here then, there is common and unbordered ground.

Brown hands are tired – palms calloused,
tendons contorted carting dirty dishes from the relieved table.
Whorls of skin crack
crater, split, a riverbed following new, unnatural summers.

Old mouths rush to apply the old approach. Burst with spittle as they tell it,
spitting from the bank until they die from promises of rain.
Rusty tools, forced into usage and unfit for purpose, in these hands, they
break. Each palm now pushes out blood, floats the rust away.

Take your fingertip and press
deep into the wound, use this
to draw a picture of a new tool.