Youngseo Lee

autopsy, but flourished with prayer

in the backseat of a honda civic i pray for the yellow roses already mushrooming between my fingers: may flowers grotesquize in the limits of their own bloom for no reason other than that today the inside of my cheeks are drifting westward. the soul i seek is technical, finds poetry in velocity and a coroner in my gums, and i think of it when i stand palms up in a gym shower stall, observing the calluses i might farm, blinking of the times i couldn’t explain i don’t care enough for monkey bars to endure the technicalities of gravity. my gums are velocitous today. yet i am told the flowers in my hands resemble scalpels, except for at heights, where there is room for both my wandering mouth and mushroomed calluses, both stretchers and pull-upers, shower stalls and disco balls. there is no rhyme to technicality, but nor is there to farming calluses, or praying – for this technical soul to fish out the insides of my floating cheeks mid-air and understand its velocity – all the while knowing the futility.

define for me a coroner. and bloom, and gravity, and a honda civic, or a shower stall; allow me to indulge in the cruelty of technical bliss. if i can believe, when i close my eyes and crack my neck left then truth will sift itself into clarity, then the world won’t stick to the bottom of my knuckles, then all i’ll scrape is steam. so parse for me a definition, and if it depends on context, trace for me the boundaries that warp a corpse into a coroner watering monkey bars, distill for me dependence. explain to me redshift and molasses and the angle of my tongue when i laugh. i’ll understand.

but dare tell me that to pray is not to dust one’s palms, or to cry, or to lie down in a parking lot. or everything but my search for the crannies of existence where nobody can define the exact type of roses i’ve hosted because tomorrow, i’ll believe that every prayer is a recited meal-prep grace and nothing more. i don’t believe in defining prayer when futility remains open. my cheeks are twisted. inertia spits the most knotted of stomachs and graceful of coroners and o, technical soul, there is nothing to dissect here but flowers.

in case it’s been missed, buried in the language: have you tried to understand me? / have you wondered why i can only scream dreams? the truth is the murk. i believe in scrambled eggs, which necessitates something to scrape.

define for me cruelty. or it’s my turn: cruelty is the act of asking a potential callus farmer to become a coroner. a rose host looks at dead bodies but does not cut out the kidneys. it is cruel to want me to fit my feelings in the swear jar. and it’s cruel of me to expect technicality to sizzle into my jaw.

Have you seen this bird? by Liz Wride

Youngseo Lee is a recent high school graduate from Arizona who is taking a gap year before heading to Princeton University. A 2020 National YoungArts Finalist in Creative Nonfiction and cat lady with no cats of her own, she has work that has appeared or is forthcoming in Entropy, Emory Lullwater Review, and Bitterfruit Review.