A Girl Walks into a Life
and a man buys her a drink in the Cheers bar / Boston / she was in 12th grade and visiting her extended family / Her brother was playing football for Princeton / Earlier that day they beat Harvard 14-7 / She snuck a few drinks from the bartender / Her twenty-three-year-old cousin gave her shots of Ouzo / The man at the bar coerced her into the alley with him / where he pulled her closer & kissed her violently & put one hand around her neck while twisting her nipple with the other / She was not safe / She got away and ended up back inside / Her family never knew what happened // She imagines him still twisting her nipple / an angry & eternal & flawed metaphor for life / She remembers reading about Joan Didion’s approach to danger— if you keep the snake in your eye line, the snake isn’t going to bite you / She still believes in confronting pain / but has no idea which alley to search //
September / October, 2022
Candice Kelsey is an educator and poet living in Georgia. She serves as a creative writing mentor with PEN America's Prison & Justice Writing Program; her work appears in Grub Street, Poet Lore, Lumiere Review, and Poetry South among other journals. She is the author of Still I am Pushing (2020) and won the Two Sisters Micro Fiction Contest (2021). Recently, she was chosen as a finalist in Cutthroat's Joy Harjo Poetry Prize. Find her @candicekelsey1.
Art: Madge Evers. Female Remedies. Mushroom spores on paper. 2019