MELODY S. GEE
MELODY S. GEE
The Convert Desires Her Way Into a First Prayer
Her mother’s first lesson
was chew your wants and spit
the pulp, grow skinny feeding
everyone else your flesh.
A heart’s cargo is sometimes oil,
sometimes crude. A spill can undo
the waterproof of any surface.
And still the diving birds must feed,
must point their beaks past the slick
that seals the cornea to eternal blur.
Does the Lord ask her what she wants
when he already knows its name?
Does he play these games to make her
ignorant tongue collapse?
A spill will always take a shape, a floating
map of damage. In the clean-up,
particles separate from the main
and cast out into fish
bellies and clam adductors.
What do you want me to do for you,
He asks. Her cargo is not
contaminate. Her answers clear water.
I want to see. I want to walk.
I want my skin unfestered.
Let me oil. Let me wash.
Let me want with a full throat
even of hopeless warbling.
Let You do nothing about any of it.
Let each desire form in this mouth
whose teeth You have taken from me.
The Convert Learns to Play Hide and Seek
The convert hid within her grandfather’s
restaurant while her cousin hunted,
while their mothers fried in oil and sweet
and sour. When the convert’s parents
laid eyes on her they said, daughter, daughter.
They never played this game with her
because from daughter there is no hiding.
When the Lord walked in the garden calling
the pair from the trees, a game began.
Now the convert strains to find Him, fingering
her ripped places, stalking Him out of His
The theologian says there is no faith
without separation. A ship will sink under
its own lighthouse.
The convert’s daughter is hiding from her.
The girl knows being found is the part
you wait for, but is not the best part.
Tucked behind the restaurant’s lard buckets,
the convert hears the boy flushing
the usual traps and dark passages.
She enters a country where she thinks
she can live. The writer says waiting is
etymologically related to vigor, to vigilance.
The convert seeks with bellows and stomps.
Her daughter’s laughs reveal her place every time.
Who can keep from saying here I am?
The Dynamics of Faith by Paul Tillich and Acedia and Me by Kathleen Norris
Melody S. Gee was born in Taiwan and raised in Cerritos, California. Her first poetry collection, Each Crumbling House (2010), won the Perugia Press Book Prize. Her second collection, The Dead in Daylight (2016), is available from Cooper Dillon Books, and was a finalist for the 2016 Jacar Press Julie Suk Award. Her poems and essays most recently appear in The Los Angeles Review, Meridian, Barnstorm Literary Journal, Spillway, The Book of Scented Things Anthology, and others. Her awards include two Pushcart Prize nominations, a Best New Poets nomination, the Robert Watson Literary Prize, and a Kundiman Asian American Poetry Retreat fellowship. Currently, she teaches developmental writing at St. Louis Community College, and lives with her husband and daughters in Saint Louis, MO.