“The Convert Wants Wounds, Not Scars”, Melody S Gee

Yesterday’s Poem-A-Day from the Academy of American Poets was “The Convert Wants Wounds, Not Scars”

About the Poem, Melody S Gee comments:

“This is part of The Convert, a series of poems I’m working on for my third collection. They explore my becoming Catholic after our youngest daughter was born, and the spiritual and liturgical experiences of my childhood, despite my Chinese immigrant parents not being religious at all. Finding my faith life is still new and strange, so I tell these stories of doubt, consolation, and cultural navigation in the third person, with a character who tries to understand wounds, healing, and resurrection while being invaded by a cold sore on her lip.”

Here is the poem:

The wound on her lip goes white
before returning red.

The virus erupts the lines between chin and
lip, between lip and philtrum.

A sore across two continents of skin, a
bridge of lava.

She will feel healed when the flesh
color returns. The variation

is the aberration. Blood courses to
deliver a clot. Vessels

bouquet under the scalp or in the
womb, in places where we

heal fastest. Cells scramble
a lean-to scab, a mortar of new skin.

The body wants to draw its
seams together.

But Jesus hangs before the
convert eternally

wounded, eternally weeping
from his gashes.

How to open hers without nails or
thorns? How to measure

heartbeats without seeing blood
heave out its rhythms?

A gush slows under pressure
even as the pulse

goes on. Our lesions take air, our
infections seek sunlight. How to

resist our unwilled mechanisms to

We push through the same tear in the
world and leave it sore.

When we come, we come open.

Pick a wound slow to bleed and
slower to seal. We cream

the scar to fade our atlas of living—what
itched its way to a silver road,

what shadow constellation of pox. The
convert counts Jesus’ wounds.

If you count both hands and both feet, all
lashes and piercings

and the forsaken cry, the number is
higher and lower than anyone’s.

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