Issue No. 6, Autumn 2013

Brigid Morrell #1
Untitled #1
Brigid Morrell

The Master’s Daughter
(Chile 1966)

Ana Garza

Before Allende and the end of the peasant class,
she learned to suture and to clamp
blood Vessels beside her father in his operating room
on days he didn’t beat her
head into the dispensary cabinet or contemplate
the roses in his garden from a veranda chair, drawing
on a cigarette, describing
sepsis, explaining that she should learn
to keep herself hidden when his temper flared.

She learned more than that, became expert
at scouring rooms and fixtures in the house
and in the operating room, boiling
scrubs in large vats beside the cook, counting
syringes and forceps, laying out
the scalpels, holding back
flaps of arm or leg or chest, throwing
stitches fine enough for embroidery silk, dropping
tumors and bad appendixes in the incinerator, collecting
old blood, laying out
the gardening gloves and the watering can for the roses,
which were his alone to tend,

always at the end of the day. She wrote lists
on the veranda the nights before his visits
to the farms, keeping track
of who to call on, which whips to take, how many strokes
for repeat offenders, how much salve to order for the week
ahead; her father glided
between the rose bushes, correcting
what she missed, caressing
the petals, like a woman’s body
the way he did before the scalpel went in
those times he forgot she stood beside him.

Then after he sprinkled
the last of the day’s blood into the soil, she poured
his cognac, filled the vase
with water she’d distilled
herself, receiving the roses

bare handed as he yanked
the guard petals and stripped
the thorns and leaves. “So beautiful,”
he whispered into the rich red faces, pealing back
his gloves, “so alive,”
murmuring that order was the sweetest flower
of knowledge and sure action.

She nodded
The way she always did, dipping
the stems and holding
her breath above the vase, its roses
giving up the scent of rotting meat.

Ana Garza has an M. F. A. from California State University, Fresno. Forty-seven of her poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies, with two forthcoming in Word Gathering.

Brigid Morell lives in New Orleans. She takes pictures everyday.