Melody S. Gee

from Each Crumbling House

After the rain, trees burn with monarchs,
come this winter on dust-and-paper bodies.
Some of the dead cling to trash on the road,
frames of wings like frames of broken windows.
You say you never saw anything like them
in China, though you cannot say for sure.
As a girl, you leashed crickets with ox hairs
and baited bees with sweet tomato flesh.
But nothing like this, you say, like this orange.
This monarch generation lives three times
longer than its parents, than it would without
a migration to complete. They are given
time to break their bodies over mountains
and heave themselves onto warm trees
so they all might survive. Are you wondering
how much more time you have been given
to learn a language and forget a language, to break
your body over an ocean for this pale
redwood dusk and this daughter?
I know you were not drawn here to save
yourself. I cannot tell you that I have
nothing to save, nothing that waits for me
to be drawn, nothing that says, you must,
you must break your wings for this.


Winner of the 2010 Perugia Press Prize
How is lineage influenced by immigration, culture, and language? In what ways do expectations, ideas, and acts of inheritance haunt us? In Each Crumbling House, Gee writes about the fractious, disappointing, and also enriching experience of being first-generation Asian American. Written with precision of line, image, and syntax, these restrained lyric poems invite and reward the reader with their grace, and stand out for their historical and emotional interweaving.
Melody S. Gee lives in St. Louis, Missouri and teaches writing at Southwestern Illinois College. This is her first book.

Migration was first published by Alligator Juniper as a National Poetry Finalist.

Visit Perugia Press and get to know some of their other poets. Visit Melody Gee here at her personal website ~