Concrete Thinking by Raymond Miller

Concrete Thinking

The mysteries of Stonehenge
have confounded scholars and archaeologists;
New Age Travellers, Pagans and Druids
each try to squeeze a narrative from granite:
a domain of the dead or a place of worship,
the best angle to witness celestial orbits.
But who else might assemble a symbolic edifice
just far enough away from the cities?

It is only several millennia
since Mental Health Service Planners
sought assistance from their neighbours:
There is so much unemployment,
the insane grow sick with boredom.
We can do no more for them –
let’s ask Occupational Therapists
to provide them with a Programme.

The Occupational Therapists
were so pleased to be consulted
after centuries secreted in adjoining Portakabins,
that they strove for something striking.
Understand that this is many years
before computers, long even before knitting.
Much sitting in circles drinking tea ensued,
many sighs, many eyes turned to the heavens
before at last they came to a consensus
(in itself a momentous occasion for therapists).
Rock Climbing, they announced; we will teach
the mentally ill to climb rocks.

Observing signs of panic on the faces
of The Planners, the O.T.s quickly added:
“There will be Risk Assessments,
Elective Pathways and Safety Nets
that are Robust and Fit for Purpose.”

Have you no proper work for us?
the insane complained,
these rocks are many miles away,
too far, too cold, too high, too wet.
The Planners and Therapists were dejected
until one of their number suggested
that if Mohammed can’t go to the mountain,
then the mountain must come to Mohammed.

So the Project started, hewing and hauling
great boulders from vast distances,
providing for the mentally ill,
the paid employment they’d requested.
At the completion of their labours
the mad returned exhausted,
spent their wages on cheap cider
and said fuck off to rock climbing.
And thus has it always been
for the Occupational Therapist.

by Raymond Miller

Editor’s Note: Sometimes a narrative leads you places you don’t expect. The closing stanza of this poem is delightful.


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