The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: The Convert’s Heart is Good to Eat by Melody S. Gee

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.

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