No straps to secure her (a poem by Fred Miegel) 

Fred Miegel is a Clinical Nurse Manager in Palliative Care at the Northern Territory Department of Health.

He wrote his poem 'No Straps to Secure Her' in 2011. It highlights many of the unique issues that require consideration in palliative care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

Fred Miegel's poem was originally published in Partyline: The Newsletter of the National Rural Health Alliance. 2011 May; Number 41, page 31 (3.28MB pdf)


'No straps to secure her'

I loaded an old lady into a troopy today
A mattress on its floor, not legal Iā€™m sure
A four hour trip back to her bit of land
A joy for her, if the trip she could stand
No straps to secure her only on top for supplies
The three blokes who helped me gentle and tender
An old woman off bush to die in her sand
Family around her, touching her hands
Her daughter a fighter with a handicap in life
Her daughter-in-law, come from far to help
A granddaughter walking two worlds with her mum
They made the journey to take lady home
A battered troopy along bitumen and dirt
The dust in the back smelt of home to them all
One off to her fate, but with love and support
Bumping along with love and concern
Back home for this lady, back in the bush
Just breathing now, comfort and love
No tubes to extend what was on the cards now
Family to sooth an oft furrowed brow
Bush medicine and healers helping with passing
Nurses from clinic checking in when can
Family can do this, honour a matriarch
Rubbing and blowing and grinding of bark
True to her country, true to her family
Last breaths in country, spirit released
Following her people on up ahead
Home in her dreaming, no longer dread
I honour this family for staying true
Call from the clinic letting me know
Family had done it, help though she was weak
I loaded an old lady into a troopy earlier this week

Last updated 19 August 2021
Reproduced with permission of the author