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Melody Wilson

Melody Wilson’s work appears in Nimrod, Sugar House Review and VerseDaily. New work is in Fiddlehead, and Tar River Review. She received 2022 Pushcart nominations from Redactions, and Red Rock Review, and was finalist for the Naugatuck Narrative Poetry Contest and semi-finalist for the 2022 Pablo Neruda Awards. She is pursuing her MFA at Pacific University. Find her work at

Learning to Speak, Mabel and Me

This morning I learned Esperanza means
both hope and wait.

All those minutes in lobbies,
on buses, dinner simmering on the stove,

the months I’ve been waiting
to hear you say Nana.

On my lap you sit silent, palms pressed
to your eyes; flung open: There she is! I sing.

Another year ticks by, but you don’t need to talk.
Chewy Bars in the cabinet, oat milk in the fridge,

your father flings you into the air. I cringe, you squeal—
so much can go wrong. Twice I ask your mother,

when? She’ll be fine, she says, just fine. You learn
to strap your seatbelt, carry your dish to the sink,

arrange plastic people on the stair rail. Together we
blow out candles, dance to brand-new songs,

your smile tipped like a question—secrets buttoned inside.
And this afternoon we tilt back in your mother’s car,

gaze through the sunroof, trees shimmer overhead—
green, blue, green, blue. Moon you query…moon?

Show me I say, where?
Your breath reels in with a gasp,

fingertips stretch for the sky,
there she is, you sing, there she is!

Brother Elegy

My mother didn’t set sleeves
or make buttonholes on a shapely Singer.

Instead, she worked on a rectangular machine
stamped Brother and swore the whole time.

Carnival glass on the dresser, Herb Alpert
on the hifi, two lamé dresses in her closet.

Nothing extravagant except us. Six dishwashers,
no lawnmowers, she regaled grocery store,

gas station clerk as we flowed from back seats
in identical dresses. Trial and error she said.

I couldn’t decide if it was pride or shame:
so much milk to buy, laundry to wash,

her sink overflowing with dishes.
But you, dear brother

I never had, would not be asked to dry.
You would just practice football, being so

brilliant and tall. Spitting image of his father,
she would say in the checkout line

while the rest of us stood there like scenery.
She’d order an extra pound of meat,

lick her thumb, wipe the chocolate
from your ruddy cheek.

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