La División


I’m asked      what I miss. Mis recuerdos
son como uñas y suciedad      my memories
are fingernails and dirt.          The soil fresh
after rain          soft with promise
of bone.   Cannot pine keep
          remains instead ossein. I so often
forget.           Cultivate peace
in a place              who cannot
pronounce my mother’s name.
          At night, I dream
of doves. Estas aves ascienden
màs alto que la virgen.           Their music
is the clearest I’ve heard.


Mother's Day, 2016


I’m in the backyard
planting rhododendron

with my mother, as we always
do this time of year. Ira Glass

talks over the old
radio, something about

immigration, something
about economy, something

about sadness. Our country
is vindictive and criminal
,

I say. It always has been
under the surface
, she says.

We unearth parched soil,
my shovel hits a stone,

rattles like dried bone.
Release stem in fresh

dirt, soft with promise
of cartilage. Petals sway

with the wind. Selfishly,
I think how nice

it must be, motionless
without push. How happy,

how beautiful, breathless,
open and reaching

for the sun.


A Benediction


The First Confession was roadside,
Seaport Marina Hotel, in ivory dress
color of snow I’d never touched.   Barren

parking lot, the smell of my great aunts
aunts and aunts, nostrils clogged with chalk,
forced coughs. Mother fainted with Baby,

Sister, Emma broke her collarbone,
in hospital white linen for weeks,
taught turn a pebble in palm,

call it prayer. But I will never cast
the first stone. She will cast
for me, decide my indecisiveness.

I always write of the same,
I’m afraid. How will I get to heaven
in season? I believe in one Holy Trinity

Mother, Father, Emma. As children,
trunk of the green Ford Explorer
with duct-taped vinyl
seats we pretended babies were hiding

in blankets beneath the Chino hills. Blankets
thirsty and dead. Emma warned against
starving before hunger but cooked anyway

root potato and salsa verde, think
how my taste buds have changed.
After school daycare in the lunch

room, the same as every parochial gym
and auditorium, we chewed unconsecrated hosts
read romance novels from the back of the library

plaid skirts splayed out like fans.
So much of what we learned
to speak was sin, so instead listened

only for quiet. Now she speaks for me anyway
breathes and tongues fly out. Ashes and ashes,
her vestiges spark the sky

brighter than flame.

Knocks me down,

Oh Simon thank you for lifting

what I can’t reach.


Kelsey McGee

Kelsey is a current undergraduate at Boston College, where she is earning her BA in English Language and Literature. Her work has previously been published in Stylus and The Laughing Medusa. You can follow her on Twitter @KelsMMcGee or on Instagram @Kels_McGee.