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.
1. A chrysalis vibrates in you but will not erupt wings. Your teacher thinks the butterfly is coming any day now. I tell you the child’s name. Your chrysalis says impossible. You learn to call her something else. Your mouth an utter betrayal. 2. A surgery will untie the infant’s tongue so she can milk. A mutilation for unfettered quenching. 3. A caterpillar’s DNA does not exit the cocoon. Wings form from the soup of the old body. The shell carries a name. But what do we call the cauldron inside? 4. In every throat the passage for air closes when food nears. We cannot consume and respire, we cannot take in all at once. 5. Wings heave in brute escape from the self-spun womb. The new creature is not a version. A few nectared months, a flight of milkweed, a life. 6. Not everything that trembles your tongue or your throat is a voice.
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.