I pull apart my flesh by sliding my teeth between each sinew and muscle. The
incisors never meet, yet I carve myself into bits. I work around the blood,
cauterizing by the heat of my breath. I pull out the cells that need to exist outside
of me. I am the surgeon of my own body.
I will hand myself a chart with facts that are not my weight, blood type, or last
• The percentage of the chocolate bar I finished eating this afternoon: 0.75
• The number of stitches I got from stabbing myself with a knife instead of
cutting a frozen bagel: 2
• The date of my first kiss with a boy who put his hand up my shirt: June 1, 1992.
I know enough to find the parts that want to be extracted. I’m past the pain. I am
not contained in the metaphorical spleen or appendix. The microscope cannot see
my love for my nephews or remember the smell of my mother’s cooking or feel the
ache of the one who left.
Beth M. Duckles is a writer, researcher, and ethnographer based in Portland, Oregon. Her writing has been published in The Dandelion Review and Narratively. She holds both a PhD in sociology and a first degree black belt in Aikido. Find her at Beth M. Duckles, Ph.D.