Candice Kelsey is an educator and poet living in Georgia. She serves as a creative writing mentor with PEN America's Prison & Justice Writing Program. Her work appears in Grub Street, Poet Lore, Lumiere Review, Hawai'i Pacific Review, and Poetry South among other journals. Recently, she was chosen as a finalist in Cutthroat's Joy Harjo Poetry Prize. Find her @candicekelsey1 and www.candicemkelseypoet.com.
Before She Leaves
like they left the motel across the Utah
state line, that night they drove 17 hours straight.
Does he remember?
No vacancy from Scott City to St. George.
She wants to give him something like that room
where they slept with its grime
& stench & obscenity & shame
like a bundle. She gives him something before she leaves,
so he’ll know they cannot go another day
together, cannot cross another state line together:
Take this pit— she releases her heavy emptiness
from her chest: It’s fine
& it’s alright & it’s okay & stop crying
now. It’s his to have, and it’s him it haunts
like truck-stop shadows under the Love’s sign
mocking them that night. She can now