My mother took us
to find a cure for my brothers’
foot worm and my fear
the witch doctor asked me to
I stood and stared out his window
imagining my fingers in the
Kowloon Bay and my little
body thundering off from Kai Tak
She smiled at the old man his
eyes rolled back like mahjong dice
his invocation to the spirits
My two brothers sat a
refuge of odd
A catch of duck feathers in
my mother’s hands as we
left she was at peace and I
was never the same.
She obeyed the witch doctor placing
one feather under each of our pillows.
My brothers dreamt of
catching snakes chasing
bats and never went
I ordered my dolls to stand against the
wall while I traced their shapes with
I rolled my eyes and wondered
who could hear the engine of
my desire thundering.
Little girls like me we squeeze the
soft right out of ourselves.
CANDICE KELSEY's debut book of poetry, Still I am Pushing, releases March 6th with Finishing Line Press. Her first nonfiction book explored adolescent identity in the age of social media and was recognized as an Amazon.com Top Ten Parenting Book in 2007. Her poetry has appeared in Poet Lore, The Cortland Review, North Dakota Quarterly and many other journals. A finalist for Poetry Quarterly's Rebecca Lard Award, 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. An Ohio native, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.