Millie Earle-Wright works part-time for a small Tree Surgery company. She graduated in English Literature and Philosophy from Edinburgh University in 2015 and is currently studying a Creative Writing Masters at the University of Glasgow. Brought up in rural Scotland, she remains happiest when out of doors.


Working for a Tree Surgery company in rural North-East Scotland demands physical, hard work in all weathers, all year round. I love the physicality of the job and the hard work that’s necessary to make a living out of doors. My colleagues treat me like any other member of the team and expect me to work just as hard. However, others are quick to treat me as an unwanted anomaly. I am tired of my presence at work being a surprise.

Unfortunately, there remains a belief that such tough work is work for a man. A female tree surgeon, therefore, is a dangerous woman, because her very presence challenges the traditional and ‘accepted’ gendered labeling, of work roles. Together, we must work hard to destabilise and deconstruct such views, until labour roles are no longer cast as either ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’, but simply as a worthwhile role for a person.


Plaits underneath an orange helmet

An orange helmet.
Pine needles in black ear muffs.
A slick run of wet rope.
The tiny ruby clasp of a caribena.
Hands blasted with chilblains.
Frozen soil cracking branches.
The sweet smell of resin.
Trees thick with wind.
Damp gloves burnt into fists.
A chipper chewing in earnest.
Spikes glinting like arrow heads.
A woodwasp, fat as my thumb.
A spider, as large as my hand.
Gentle mist behind a wall.
A snagged thorn under skin.
Bruises jumping onto shoulders.
Lying against the glowing sky.
Fishing with a hook above his head.
Squealing, holding steel.
Heavy dripping tagline.
Tipping tracks on four wheels.
A thumbs up.
Teeth through bark.
Blisters in the shape of a rake.
Leaves caught in hollows.
Cold air, like water.


Oh you brought a filly with you
Just send the boy up the tree
Oh my god, is that a woman
I’d leave the heavy lifting to the boys
Did you come along for the ride
You’re strong for a girl
Do your men need access
Can you send one of the boys over
Funny job for a woman
Don’t lift that let me
Must be nice for the boys at least
bet they
do you even
have you ever
Are you sure you’re strong enough?

Breaking branches
Retching soil
Gloves to glue
that smoke hard
in the burning garden.

I grip the rope.
Drag the hag.
Life the roundel.
Fuel the saw
and let it – Yes.