Under cardboard lids: my mother’s childhood. Here, sepia tinged pigtails and pinafores pose next to wheelbarrow, or birthday cake, or freshly caught bass. Men in suits, round women wearing scarves. Just off the boat Lithuanian relatives stand shoulder to shoulder: an anniversary, a wedding, a funeral. In one photo, there is a row of men cradling rifles. In the foreground: two children—my mother and her brother. He is lanky with tousled hair, bare feet and overalls; she is wearing a short white dress. Both of them are standing at attention—like prisoners of war. I recognize those children; we are, in a way, siblings in the same house. Though they never had the strength to remember. Certainly not the cuttlefish. Those nocturnal hunters: carnivorous cephalopods eating prey behind clouds of brown ink shot from rectal glands. Alive, my mother drew a line “Nothing past here, ever happened.” I stack photos back into boxes, tape down the covers, feel the space between us as big as a room full of heavy breathing.
-- Hilary Melton received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has appeared in the New York Quarterly, Ellipsis, Rattle, Slipstream, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, among others.