Brandon Melendez



My grandmother describes my Spanish as desmadre.
She means my accent is the charred wreckage

after the storm, proof our family washed up
in this country one day & were no longer from anywhere

else. Desmadre translated directly to English means without
, so maybe my grandmother’s history is the map

I lost & have been searching for ever since.
Maybe the voyage ends with my mouth

open. The last relic of la patria settling on my tongue
for a moment, then dissolving into the water.

My grandmother told me a story once
about her adoption & all the new words she learned

for family—but I do wonder if she ever feels that absence,
if she woke up en la tormenta

surrounded by flotsam, only to learn
she is without mother.



My abuela sits in our backyard

watching over

San Diego. She drinks

from her glass

& it starts to rain.

She kisses my father

on his forehead

& the drought

is over.

She makes magic

sound like her first language

the way she makes el desierto weep,

the way she conjures this spell of agua

y sal.

She calls it her name,

calls it familia

resilient & alive



Brandon Melendez is a Mexican American poet from California. His first book home/land will be released with Write Bloody Publishing next fall. He is a National Poetry Slam finalist, Rustbelt Poetry Slam finalist, and two-time Berkeley Grand Slam Champion. He has poems in or forthcoming in Tinderbox, Sixth Finch, Button Poetry, and others. He is also an MFA candidate at Emerson College.

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