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The Marjorie E. Peale Prize

Melissa Slayton



To understand old
women you must understand
the beauty of
wisteria, always falling
while rising up, a violet flow,
wildly sweet and concupiscent;
a whorled cumulus
with poisoned seeds. I lived
in a house
full of old-timers who wore
baskets on their heads and cleaned
their ear wax with their
nails, but oh they’d sing
Danny Boy and
Goodnight My Angel over
poker, and I wonder what
we’ll play when we’re
that old: Pokémon or
Super Mario, games on
outdated cell phones, the world stuffed
with gadgets that we’ll
have never learned to need. I grew
like the climbing wisteria
when I realized how oldness
will seem so new in this life
I’ve never courted, proximity
to sleep and twilight—yes,
purple euphony and
chastened long-plucked
petals. Maybe it will feel
like waking or