Churn Boil & Roar – Candice Kelsey

What are those cardigans
with the large wooden buttons called
I ask my friend
the Millennial with a degree
in costume design from George Mason 

toggle sweaters or cardigans
she reports back
and where can I get one, I ask her
1977 she replies – or Etsy 

so, I go back to May 1977 

nothing whatsoever like Sharon Olds
not concerned a wit
about my parents’ choosing each other
or winding my heart into motion 

no, I go back to May 1977
episode one season seven of Columbo
with Ruth Gordon as sympathetic
novelist turned murderer 

but only for the beach scene
four minutes in
when she wears that perfect sweater
oversized just right 

a navy cable knit toggle cardigan 

I go back to ride the horse
that gallops past her and her nephew
kicking up sand like the Atlantic
churns boils and roars off the Cape 

but this time I stop and dismount
with the aim of a director
keen to rework the blocking
or a poet wrestling with the irony of her conception 

I want to go up to them and say Go
keep saying your lines 
even though I’m off script
and someone’s yelling Cut cut cut
moments after the clapperboard Action 

bangs together like two plastic dolls 

I ask Ruth Gordon to take it off
take off that cardigan
and hand it over to me this very moment
damn the wardrobe manager
drunk in his trailer 

because no matter what anyone says
the toggle and clasp of it
is that nothing makes us feel
more loved no friend and certainly no family member 

or beloved tv crime drama 

you watched Sundays with your father
while the rest of your little world
churned boiled and roared
with uncertainty
heartache and emptiness

nothing wraps our bones in warmth
promise and unconditional love
like a chunky wool
toggle buttoned sweater from 1977
its threads never unraveling

like a life or lines in a favorite poem


About the Poet

CANDICE KELSEY’s debut book of poetry, STILL I AM PUSHING, releases March 6th with Finishing Line Press. Her poetry has appeared in Poets Reading the News, Poet Lore, North Dakota Quarterly, and many other journals while her first micro chapbook THE PIER HOUSE is forthcoming with the Origami Poetry Project. A finalist for Poetry Quarterly’s Rebecca Lard Award and Honorable Mention for Common Ground’s 2019 Poetry Contest, Candice’s creative nonfiction was nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. She is an educator of 20 years’ standing, devoted to working with young writers.

4 thoughts on “Churn Boil & Roar – Candice Kelsey

  1. She is an amazing poet and author. The way she phrases and describes you feel like you were there, right there!

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