Where we’re from, we know ballet as Dale Earnhardt
gliding through the traffic of Daytona; we know dance
as our hands moving across a table of drunk Miller Lites.
This is universal because I say it is. When my mother called
me Kayleb for the first time, I remembered the haunted house
on Clifton Hill, how she was tugged away by a hired actor.
I screamed until they took us out the fire escape. To care
is to call a name. To care is to call your mother’s name,
as your father pulls at her ankles. Dear Ma, you know your
hands were always too blue in the winter, strapping snow
chains onto the Ford Expedition. This is a happy memory
because it’s a memory. It is warmer now. Blame global
warming, blame the divorce. It doesn’t matter. All that
matters is the heat of the sun, and both being here to feel it.
Copyright © 2022 by Kayleb Rae Candrilli. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 4, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
“This poem is about tenacity, industriousness, and my appreciation and love for my mother. Most of my poems, really, end up being letters of admiration to my mother’s strength.”
—Kayleb Rae Candrilli