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.