I was thinking about the symbols of medicine when I wrote this riddle. Although I don’t particularly want to give the poem away before you read it, by the time I got to the end of writing it I was thinking as much about the persona of a doctor – what is required – as I was about the literal object.




I’ve been to the big room.

I’ve picked you from all the others.

You’re shapeless and you won’t crease,

you can take hot water.


They can throw anything at you,

it will all wash out.

The whiteness shows you are clean.

You are professionalism and hygiene.


You’ve been worn in and worn out.

On your lapel is a pin.

You don’t breathe well

and they say you spread infection.

You scare children.


– Angela Andrews

PhD candidate in Creative Writing, International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University.  I have previously worked as a doctor.