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Candice Kelsey

Candice Kelsey teaches writing in the South. Her poetry appears in Poets Reading the News and Poet Lore among other journals, and her first collection, Still I am Pushing, explores mother-daughter relationships as well as toxic body messages. She won the 2019 Two Sisters Writing’s Contest and was recently nominated for both a Best of the Net and a Pushcart. Find her at

After Parents’ Weekend

I drove the seven hours
from Fork Union to Augusta
without stopping even once
through the darkness
of James Madison Highway
and my husband
an uncomfortable shadow
in the passenger seat
unhappy with something I did
something I said outside
of the McDonald’s
in the neon glow of night
without talking even once
about the dog or the daughter
sleeping in the back
instead of listening to her
favorite Harry Potter podcast
that had failed to distract her
from the seven-hour freeze
out of mom and dad
twenty years in and out
of a life just past the speed
limit toward another
shift in position or piece
of gum to keep us awake
because seat warmers
can’t thaw this Subaru air
so I hit the defrost
and squinted for errant deer
when suddenly our song
came on the radio
asking Darling, won’t you
stand by me
and his arm stretched
tenderly toward the volume
with what felt finally
like love— until
silence told me otherwise
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