This selection, chosen by guest editor Shlagha Borah, is from The Convert's Heart is Good to Eat by Melody S. Gee, released by Driftwood Press in 2022.
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 cleanup, 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. 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.
Melody S. Gee is the author of The Dead in Daylight (Cooper Dillon Books, 2016) and Each Crumbling House (Perugia Press, 2010), winner of the Perugia Press Prize. She is the recipient of Kundiman poetry and fiction fellowships, two Pushcart Prize nominations, and the Robert Watson Literary Prize. Her poems, essays, and reviews appear in Commonweal Magazine, Blood Orange Review, Lantern Review, and The Rappahannock Review. She is a freelance writer and editor living in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband and daughters.
Shlagha Borah (she/her) is a poet from Assam, India. Her work appears in Salamander, Nashville Review, Identity Theory, Longleaf Review, Variant Literature, Rogue Agent, and elsewhere. She is pursuing an MFA in Poetry at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is an Associate Poetry Editor at Grist. She has received support for her work from Brooklyn Poets and Sundress Academy for the Arts. She is the co-founder of Pink Freud, a student-led collective working towards making mental health accessible in India.