Water we won't touch
Reunited after years apart,
my sibling is how I imagined
they would be, hair pink
and lit up like a highway flare—
a fire that always tries
to keep itself alive, even
in the rain, or as the tide rolls up.
For years my father had my sibling
surrounded by the Pacific
and saline-flushed needles.
And still my sibling burned.
When we were young,
my father used his hands
for everything. He used his hands
to describe how lightning
almost took him. He
and the lightning
the only bodies on the beach.
His feet smoked up, charred
on the bottoms, a spider-
web of fire spun as the storm
lashed onto shore. The sand
turned to silica glass around him.
My father has always been spared
and my father is the closest thing I know
to a sinner. What is the third degree
if not a near smiting?
Sometimes, I wonder
about the vastness of the ocean,
and how best to avoid its anger.
My sibling and I loved each other
most during storms. I know this.
When my sibling tells me—
after all these years—about
the pink lightning that hovered
over a town full of pink houses, I know
that we haven’t been totally beaten.
What is a family if not preparation?
We can smell a storm coming
before anyone. I swear
we can taste it rolling in.
Kayleb Rae Candrilli, “Water we won’t touch” from Water I Won’t Touch. Copyright © 2021 by Kayleb Rae Candrilli. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, coppercanyonpress.org. All rights reserved.