With the selection of these poems by Shae Lee, we continue our series of original fiction or poetry by writers who either published their first book at 40 or after, or who have yet to publish a book. Writers interested in submitting work should see our guidelines.
been saying hey to tenderness lately
when it arrives all sticky and drooping
with heavy uncertainty riding shotgun
hollowing out a cavern in my chest
I see you I say then expand my ribcage
to welcome it home
gentle breath invites it back to center where
to be seen
acknowledged nay even loved
tenderness forages for safe earthly ground
to thrive in love
aligned in wisdom
nimble while rooted in someone
who need not be won defeated or beguiled
doesn’t everyone need contact
I am someone
I do see now
tenderness is a life partner
holding my heart’s desires
waiting to be freed by my listening
this hot tenderness
is connection to my humanity
not a punishment
for being alive
She slices the fruit and fans it out
toast cut, rich with butter
he laughs and kicks
breaking fast with his special person;
their affection imbues the air.
She names each flavor as she places it before him
eye to eye
he tastes and chews
“more, more,” his urgent slaps on the tray request
there is always more until he’s full;
she is nourished too.
She asks him questions
titles his feelings
so he knows what to call them when his words begin to form
he giggles and screeches
learning to speak in this woman’s presence
who hears him
who wants the world to be safe
because he matters
he deserves a response
blessed with one another
their patient conversation is sacred;
I hope I had this once.
Their gentle exchange shatters my heart
the human kindness of filling his belly
of reflecting to him—he’s wanted
because her wise hands offer miracles
her soft eyes provide home.
For them, this is a Thursday.
To me, this is Church.
Shae Lee is a Korean adoptee, Colorado business owner, artist, LLCA certified Life Coach, and poet. Her work appears in the Adoptee Voices E-Zine. Shae will be published this summer in the literary journal Twenty Bellows inaugural anthology book, We Are the West. Her most important life accomplishment is having raised her beloved sons into incredible men.
Photos by Shae Lee