Two Poems by Melody Wilson

White Mare

          Only if there are angels in your head will you
                    ever, possibly, see one.
                                        —Mary Oliver
                                        The World I Live In

All my horses are dead now.
The Shetland pony, the sorrel,

          the bay. Gone like grandparents
          trailing genes. When I say

that once I rode
very well, I mean

          summer thighs clung
          to the mare’s barrel,

our sweat mingled like
blood brothers. I mean

          I first studied my reflection
          in the eye of a horse—

the flea-bitten gray who leaped
tumbleweeds, no saddle, no shoes,

          my hands twisted into mane,
          her hoofs striking sand:

one-two, one-two. My heart
falls into rhythm even now.



Three dots of concealer still
mute my age spots. Dot, dot,
dot, and my skin appears
as I imagine it once did.

The Japanese call this
Bijinga, the art of painting
women to reveal their
inner beauty. No matter

whether the image matches
the model, what counts
is an inquisitive brow, pursed
lips, hair restrained by silk

flowers and a small jade
sword. My mother
pulled her hair back,
threaded it through a bun

she brought from a box,
wound the tail around.
She tilted toward the mirror,
applied lipstick, tore a sheet

of toilet paper from the roll,
closed her lips on the fold,
popped them open.
She appraised her face

in the mirror, tossed the tissue
aside. I knew she was
leaving when the dresser
was littered with kisses.


Melody Wilson’s work appears in Sugar House Review, VerseDaily and The Fiddlehead. Upcoming work will be in Kestrel, Crab Creek Review, and Archetype Magazine. She received 2022 Pushcart nominations from Redactions and Red Rock Review, and was semi-finalist for the Pablo Neruda Award. Her chapbook Spineless: Memoir in Invertebrates comes out in August 2023. She’s pursuing her MFA at Pacific University. Find her work at

My Father’s Voice by Melody Wilson

My Father’s Voice

My face was always dirty. I blamed it on the wind
or my invisible friend. Mama stretched over the seat,

licked her thumb, scrubbed at my grubby cheeks.
Facing front again, she lurched into song, usually

How Much is that Doggie in the Window. My sisters
would plead for our father to sing—his smile

in the rear view, straight teeth, black mustache,
his turn at last. He sang like the best part of the sun—

like the Santa Anas that flowed in over his arm resting
on the door. As I walked out on the streets of Laredo…

four bare-legged girls lined up on the back seat—suddenly silent.
The primer-red Caddy sailed over the ribbon of asphalt

that held down the sand …as I walked out in Laredo one day….
Somewhere there’s a layer of time where leather still smells

like gasoline, where the Mojave rolls absently by, the song
just now falling, weaving itself into wind.


Melody Wilson’s recent work appears in Quartet, Briar Cliff Review, The Shore, Whale Road Review, Timberline Review, SWWIM, and Tar River Poetry. She received the 2021 Kay Snow Award, Honorable Mention for the 2021 Oberon Poetry Award, and finalist in the 2021 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award.

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Poem by Melody Wilson

The Doctrine of the Kite

It floats from my fingertips—
a cathedral of rice paper
and balsa.
“Lighter than air,” Daddy said,
sipped his beer,
tapped ash from his cigar.

He said gold pounded thin enough
would cover the earth; meat should
never be wrapped in foil.
The number three always brings bad luck.

Morning was crowded with kites:
boxes, diamonds, deltas.
Children pelted the playground,
paper whiffling, tails flowing,
they released the keels
trusted in speed and skill.
Lines sang through sweaty hands.

Six toed cats are charmed, he said,
and Joshua trees can move.
Man and God are forever
locked in duel.

I held the kite above my head that day
reciting everything he said.
It quivered once,
twice, then rose
and rose.
The string pulling away
from the spool.


Melody Wilson lives and teaches near Portland, Oregon. She has one Academy of American Poets Award, and several smaller awards including a 2020 Kay Snow award. Her work has appeared in The Portland Review, Visions International, and Triggerfish Critical Review.