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 Receives the Sign of the Cross on her Feet
The immigrants’ daughter doesn’t know Easter or egg hunts. Someone cuts a starting line ribbon to unleash the gatherers and she is washed into the herd. She knows she is supposed to seek. No one has told her these eggs will not be the raw, white ones her dutiful mother tucked by the longbeans. She doesn’t know to spot silver wrappings or shiny plastics. She is turned around, lapping a brick path with her basket, some centerpiece with dented floral foam still packed in the bottom. She doesn’t notice others yanking at grasses or parting bushes like curtains. Her mother has taught her never to take. To initiate her into mystery, the convert receives the sign of the cross on her eyes, her ears, her lips, her shoulders, her hands, her heart. She replies I am to every question. Then her husband kneels and thumbs a cross on each foot. She cannot remember the priest’s words for why but hears him call her catechumen. Her feet, barely sandaled, receive their signs on skin and bones. The hunt stretches on and she knows much lies beyond her, scattered and hidden, but also nowhere. In the exit line, a smiling host puts three bright eggs in her empty basket and pats her shoulder. Aisles pulse at communion. The convert watches them open their hands and mouths, how they vanish the wine together. She wonders if the sip stains the wafer before it melts, if that steep is enough to change the body’s contours as it eases down to fill the fast.
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.