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On Being Neglected - Melanie Gilkerson

In the summer of 2000, after we were evicted

Mom left us alone to

Sleep in her boyfriend’s basement.

Used to absence, we played catch

in the living room that

She took her first steps in.

For vacation, we took baggies of change

To the pool. We ate pixie stix in towel forts

And taught ourselves to dive in the deep end.

At night, I went out your window onto the roof

with a blanket. You played your boom box and

didn’t make me come in.

When they remembered where they left us,

They didn’t plead but went with:

There’s going to be changes. You need to listen!

And we, the Leaders of the Latchkeys,

wondered with fermented resentment

how the hell we survived until then.


Melanie Kalos is a neurodivergent stay-at-home mom to two young children. She is a survivor, an emerging poet and an essayist. She has a BA in English and an AA in Creative Writing.



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