American Life in Poetry: Summering in Wildwood, NJ

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

For Kayleb Rae Candrilli, as for many of us, the dramatic change of setting — in their case, the arrival at the coast facing the grand Atlantic — can shift our sense of being in significant ways.

For the poet, their affirmation “that lines are always changing” brings a certain comfort. Even more significant is the epiphany that ends the poem: “the tide tells me/ my body can morph/ as many times as it needs.”

“Summering in Wildwood, NJ” celebrates the fluidity of our changing human bodies by connecting them with the defiant fluidity of nature.

Summering in Wildwood, NJ
By Kayleb Rae Candrilli

in a few days, i’ll be on a beach
so bright i can see the sun through my fingers,

each thin vein lit
up blue like a heron’s leg.

this poem is not so much about a beach
as it is about arriving,

blowing stop signs
until the coast affirms

that lines are always changing,
and the tide tells me

my body can morph
as many times as it needs.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2021 by Kayleb Rae Candrilli, “Summering in Wildwood, NJ” from Water I Won’t Touch (Copper Canyon Press, 2021). Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.