The Orchid


He vacillated whether to conceive the baby or not.  It was an either all in or all out proposition.  Either way, it was going to be a messy affair.  They decided to name her Melody, but even with a name like that my father professed that I would never make it as a musician.  I had two left hands, and a voice that could both bury the living and awaken the dead, he’d say.  Notwithstanding the burning appreciation I had for the art and the artists, I could not bear a harrowing upbringing like my older brother and be the source of his iniquity.  I shelved my musical curiosity and embraced the art of macramé.  Bracelets, rings, and coats.  I even macramé’d lady totes.  I tried my hand at poetry during spring break, but developed an unhealthy and unrequited affection for the writers I studied.   

The earliest recollection of my childhood, and subsequent source of my inspiration for this piece: the fragrant orchid—oscillating in a beam of sunlight, seemingly intertwined with the delicate sound of arpeggios coming from the piano’s soundboard nearby.   My mother would often bake cookies in the adjacent room and then set aside some time to practice afterwards.  I never could make it through Moonlight Sonata Act 1 without drifting into slumber.   The orchid and all its beauty; the aromatic cinnamon in the air; Beethoven.  It was the the only antidote I needed to calm what was a very stormy life.  I would often startle awake with my father hovered over me:  Your mother is just like fragrant orchid, I heard him whisper.  A fragrant orchid… and you are, too.  Perhaps a delusion because of my innocence.

The orchid wilted and died as the storm clouds hovered over our antiquated home.  I sat with little motion in the corner of the room as the rain rapped on the outside shed’s aluminum roof.  The demons began to stir.  I was just a 10-year-old girl when she succumbed to to her illness.  The room, once illuminated majestically by her presence, now a gloomily lit by just 3 candles. The flames flickered, and revealed several unpaid utility bills strewn on top of the piano.  I remember when the dark odious mist enveloped the room, and morphed into grotesque formations I can only equate to the worst of my nightmares. Ashes, our cat, leaped down from the mantle smashing several piano keys making a hodgepodge of sounds before landing on the floor then dashing behind the chesterfield.  First, their shrieking other-worldly heads, followed by their elongated bodies entered the room like streamers fluttering horizontally from a heavy wind. The evil formations screamed in unison as their nails clawed at my contorted body in the corner.  My face was wet with tears over my rictus of fear.  I closed my eyes, praying they would go away.  My father’s steps towards me became louder, I opened my eyes and saw the demons recede back into his liver-diseased body. The stench of whiskey burned my eyes. Your mother was just like a flagrant whore, kid, he whispered as he hovered over me. A flagrant whore, kid… and you are, too.   

I discovered in my adolescence that I have inherited some of those demons from my father, but those storm clouds dissipated shortly after his self-inflicted death. With psychological support from Aunt Theresa, I could once again see that fragrant orchid bathed in sunlight, swaying to the rhythm of the music. That room has become much more dim over the years, but my mother has remained the primary source of my inspiration despite my plight.  And she has compelled me to write this next arrangement I call: The Fragrant Orchid.