Candice Kelsey
More than Clouds
for Jean
My mother was like the shirtwaist trend broomstick skirt born mid-century. She was raised on Stokely’s sugar peas Campbell’s soup and butter. She was left to cry in her crib. She had sisters to walk with to the store. She was a cheerleader flirt exceptional student-turned-secretary very red heels. She wore make-up from sun-up to sun-down and never a day without calorie guilt. She loved husband sons daughter house with counters dressed in avocado green a toaster harvest gold. This is what I know about my mother who knows even less about her own mother — Mary — a cruel tongue drank one beer each night sat in a tub of milk after a skunk sprayed her. Who are these women? I only know that I want them to be more than clouds over this freeway darkening the sun but they pitch answers that are less answers and more warnings to stop prying. In my family there are no story tellers — my mother can’t grant the meaning of herself the meaning of her own mother. I am content to hear my own daughter claim she knows five hundred narratives of me.

Candice Kelsey’s work has appeared in such journals as Poet Lore, The Cortland Review, and North Dakota Quarterly. She published a successful trade paperback with Da Capo Press, was a finalist for Poetry Quarterly's Rebecca Lard Award, and recently was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. An educator of 20 years' standing with her MA in literature from LMU, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

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