Veterinary Practice


There’s nothing better than surgery to show you how
good he is with a knife. He’s everything
but your father. The doctor cannot see you right now.

Surely it’s the work that ridges his brow
and not your lost mind. You hear him whisper something:
There’s nothing better than surgery. He shows you how

to slit the skin, open the abdomen of a cow
and reach in, extract the calf. First he takes off his wedding ring.
But your father’s the doctor and cannot see you right now,

not with patients waiting. There’s a schnauzer, a chow,
a pitbull. The room is a bloated, throbbing thing.
There’s nothing better than surgery to show you how

little he cares for hospital visits. Farmers care more for the sow
in heat. He loves you, he does, but it doesn’t change anything.
Your father’s the doctor. You cannot see right now

that this is the best it will get. He’ll never endow
you with his knowledge, only longing—
and there’s nothing better. Surgery shows how
your father cannot see you now.

Grace Wagner