'The coast affirms that lines are always changing'

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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. 



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 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


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