American Life in Poetry: “Summering in Wildwood, NJ”
By Kwame Dawes
For Kayleb Rae Candrilli, as for many of us, the radical change of scenery – in their case, arriving on the coast facing the great Atlantic – can significantly alter our sense of being. For the poet, their assertion “that the lines always change” brings a certain comfort. Even more significant is the epiphany which ends the poem: “the tide tells me / my body can be metamorphosed / as many times as it needs”. “Summering in Wildwood, NJ” celebrates the fluidity of our changing human bodies by connecting them with the provocative fluidity of nature.
Summer in Wildwood, NJ
in a few days i will be on a beach
so bright that I can see the sun through my fingers,
every thin vein lit
blue like a heron’s paw.
this poem is not so much about a beach
as it is to happen,
blowing stop signs
until the coast says
that the lines always change,
and the tide tells me
my body can transform
as many times as necessary.
Poem copyright 2021 by Kayleb Rae Candrilli, “Summering in Wildwood, NJ” from “Water I Won’t Touch” (Copper Canyon Press, 2021). American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.