The Daughter Performs An Autopsy On Her Own Sadness

The Daughter Performs An Autopsy On Her Own Sadness

by Caris Allen


it is really very easy if you don’t mind

the sight of blood. a y-shaped incision:

from the outer edge of each collar bone,

connected at the sternum & down

straight through the belly button.

layered like so,

the skin

the fat

the muscle

the bone

and here is where she searches for

the cause, the root of this

aching melancholy.


the bones are milk-white, porous,

maybe the purest thing she’s ever seen.

untouched by daylight, hidden in the

dark of her body. so how did we get here?

she asks, cracking open her rib cage.

the beating heart, the breathing lungs,

the strangely moving stomach.

it is all too much.

or maybe not.

she slices a cross-section of an artery.

lovely blood carrier smashed flat between

two pieces of glass, secured beneath

a microscope. this close,

she sees cells & cells & cells.

one trillion copies copied one

trillion times. what is a mother cell?

what is a mother?


she repeats this activity with

her liver, her spleen, her intestines.

over & over, the same:

copies of copies, prints of prints,

impossible to trace back to their origins.

but there must be origins, right?


the first.


no such thing.

somewhere along evolution's line,

homo erectus become homo sapiens

with a blurry space in between.

maybe this is where

the sadness lives.


maybe this is where

the sadness is born.


quickly, on the edge of discovery,

she saws open her skull. inside,

a gelatinous lump, an unexplainably

intricate web of electrical wires.

which ones could i cut & still

be me? she wonders, scalpel in

hand. what am i but

an idea

an illusion

a floating consciousness?


cogito ergo sum.

i think therefore i am

digging my own grave.


she puts all of her organs back

in order, sutures her skin shut.

turns out the sadness cannot be

removed like some bothersome


turns out she inherited this

long ago. turns out it has passed


cell to cell to cell

forever & will pass


Caris Allen is a student at the University of North Texas pursuing a BA in English. Her work has previously been featured in Austin Film Festival, The North Texas Review, Dirty Paws Poetry Review, and is upcoming in Gambling the Aisle and Riggwelter Press. You can find her online @2freckled.

#poetry #carisallen

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