Melanie McGehee :: Remember Me :: Three Poems ::


Southern Legitimacy Statement: Have you heard me talk? No. In that case, I’ve spent all of my 53 years in the rebellious state of South Carolina. I love cornbread and pot liquor. I question wearing white after Labor Day. I “ma’am” and “sir” everybody, no matter their age, but especially if I’m a tad angry with them. I write about beauty and truth, and about how often truth is beautiful if you just change your perspective. I’m fixin’ to finish a memoir about becoming a lady, but I’m still workin’ on it while pursuing an MFA at Wilkes University’s low-residency program (because they are in the cold north!

Remember Me

I am the dust on the coffee table that sits in front of the sliding glass door. You see me when sunlight sets over home’s backyard. I was there all along.

I am the spoon that rests in the saucer that sits just to the left of the pewter bowl for the sugar, waiting each morning on the kitchen counter. I ladle sweetness and you are stirred.

I am the pile of laundry by the bed that grows until there’s no more floor, reminder that one day you’ll get to things that must be done. I am warm and wrinkled and good for wearing once more.

I am the flour, self-rising, that goes in the grease left in the electric fry pan, after cubed steak has cooked til almost done. I mix with salt and pepper, Tony Chachere’s or a bit of garlic, and as much milk as will fit. I’m the thickener that makes gravy for your white rice.

I am the paperback, second shelf from the top, nestled between Marx and Melville, in your library of books, so many you’re waiting to read, me the only one you know cover to cover. I am dog eared and highlighted. 

I am the twenty-year-old tawny you sip before bedtime, the fingers you feel along your naked back while trying to sleep, the tongue that plays behind your left ear, the giggles that echo in your never too tired head, the thorn in your flesh that keeps you awake for just a little longer. I am the wild orange smell, that money you spent on fancy perfume, that wafts in your dreams. I am blessed Saturday mornings when there’s nowhere to be and nothing to do. I’m the one that belongs with you.

Coconut Triduum Cake

Day One

Wash frozen fresh coconut with sugared sour cream for Maundy mess. Taste and see the mystery of fruit and dairy, coalesced. Do this in remembrance of Grandma Shirley who gave of herself in the kitchen so that you might live in abundance.

Day Two

Carefully halve two baked layers of boxed yellow cake mix, using a string of dental floss to carve through each’s middle. Now you have four offerings to spread with Day One’s icing. Cover each: heart, soul, mind, and strength; with dripping robes of white as you build your Good temple. Marvel at the memory of her steady hands. Shroud this offering with Saran Wrap and place in refrigerator. Shut the door.

Day Three

Wait. Do not eat. Do not peek. Think of how you miss her and all things lost since she is gone. Order take out in your mourning.

Day of Feasting

Open fridge. Behold the treasure. Carry to the table and present to inheritors. Break the seal. Slice into pieces. Consume the sweetness. Declare that somehow, someway, here inside you now – she lives still. Grandma with us in this Thanksgiving treat. Alleluia!


I live near a zoo.

Some nights

before sleep comes,

before the Amtrak 

plows beside the rivers

trio that conjoins in one,

before the blaring horn

charges by the waterways,

proclaiming its Pulaski stop,

I lie in bed beside

an opened window,

wonder why

the howler monkeys

must insist 

on mating


while it is dark.

Those nights I

dream of a giraffe

munching –

high green leaves

from a tree

that we declare

too close to the house.

I see the lioness –

yawn and sprawl

on our back porch.

I feel the elephant’s weight

that shakes our street

while strolling Cofield’s

hill; I hear 

its trumpet

right before 

I wake.

Then I remember that I live

quite near a zoo,

quiet as the crow flies,

quickly then 

I construe

that they are still

and in

their cages.

That is when I fear –

the tameness


each one of us

locked in such sameness.

And I dare to wish 

that I were loose

and wild

like the Congaree,

Saluda, Broad,

rivers rushing sound

to me

on their way

to deep.

I howl

to those horizons

far as sea,

stretch my neck

and stomp my feet.

I live with a zoo inside of me.