The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Daughters by Brittney Corrigan


This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from Daughters by Brittney Corrigan, released by Airlie Press in 2021.

Surgeon’s Daughter

When my mother tucks
my hair behind my ears,
it is not with absentminded
affection but with precision,
the careful hook of her
finger efficient and swift.

The body is not a neat
array from the inside out.
You have to learn where
everything goes, how each
organ puzzles into the hollows
beneath our breakable bones.

So she doesn’t insist
that I tidy the field of stray
clothing across my floor.
It’s more about a working
order. Can I find what
I need and just go?

Sometimes when she looks
at me, I feel magnified,
as if viewed through her
surgical loupes, every
neuron and synapse
apparent and understood.

But it’s not invasive.
My very blood feels
seen within her gaze.
Each muscle, each node
of flesh, is cradled by
the attention of her eyes.

The body is a cavity
brimming with clockwork
and mistakes. My mother’s
hands, scalpel-less, tip my skull
up by the chin. Every chamber
of my heart allows her in.

Brittney Corrigan is the author of the poetry collections Daughters, Breaking, Navigation, and 40 WeeksSolastalgia, a collection of poems about climate change, extinction, and the Anthropocene Age, is forthcoming from JackLeg Press in 2023. Brittney was raised in Colorado and has lived in Portland, Oregon for the past three decades, where she is an alumna and employee of Reed College. She is currently at work on her first short story collection.

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