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my mother believes in my marriage and this shows me her heart can forgive even years spent dancing alone



After Hernan Bas’ Leaving the Nest

When I ask my mother to tell me
a story, she tells me of her cold feet
boiled down in a vat of frogs.

She tells me of the way she danced-
romantic with a mop at her wedding
rehearsal. If you ask her, she’ll say

the mop had thick Sicilian curls, more
rhythm than my father, and always took out
the trash. She’ll say I should have thrown

my body
in reverse, killed
the headlights, and hid.

She’ll say you have his hair,
and when your eyes flash red
I see him               and a turn
signal onto a back road. 

It is true that
I want to spend           my life apologizing
for both my body         and my anger,
but neither have          killed anyone yet.

This is a triumph of blood.
This is a U-Turn. In my family,
moving backward is progress.

In my family, water boils
to ice, and songs sound better
while rewound. When I tell

my mother I’ve met the man
I want to marry she asks
to give me away.


Kayleb Rae Candrilli is author of What Runs Over with YesYes Books. They serve as an assistant poetry editor for BOAAT Press, and they hold an MFA and an MLIS from the University of Alabama. They live in Philadelphia with their partner. You can read more at

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