The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Connotary by Ae Hee Lee


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Elizabeth Vignali, is from Connotary by Ae Lee Hee, released by Bull City Press in 2021. 

Naturalization :: Migration

At a pottery sale,
I buy nothing, only
               consider: this

      turquoise-ribbed vase, baked
      into a gloss of rivers,
slightly slanted to the left.

So, so cheap—perhaps
a uniqueness mistaken
                for a mistake.

I’m convinced
       of its fragility,
               its ceramic pelvis.

                 The space
               it would take up
     in the immigration bag

     my parents passed down
to me: dark, foldable closet
                            I’ve dragged

from country to country.
When I was younger,
                 I orphaned many books;

now I just carry
this guilt,
     a longing

     for roots, a garland
of delicate hair seeping
             slowly into soil—

into vase.
             But I’m no perennial
         green. I have feet

         eager to get naked,
                moved by the seasons
 not here yet.

                               They ask me to chase
                their undulating
         animal dreams.


Born in South Korea, raised in Peru, Ae Hee Lee currently lives in the U.S. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks: Dear bear, (Platypus Press, 2021), Bedtime || Riverbed (Compound Press, 2017), and Connotary, which was selected as the winner for the 2021 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming at Poetry Magazine, Poetry Northwest, The Georgia Review, New England Review, and Southern Review, among others.

Elizabeth Vignali is the author of the poetry collection House of the Silverfish (Unsolicited Press 2021) and three chapbooks, the most recent of which is Endangered [Animal] (Floating Bridge Press 2019). Her work has appeared in Willow Springs, Poetry Northwest, Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, Tinderbox, The Literary Review, and elsewhere. She lives in the Pacific Northwest on the land of the Noxwsʼáʔaq and Xwlemi peoples, where she works as an optician, produces the Bellingham Kitchen Session reading series, and serves as poetry editor of Sweet Tree Review.

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