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Sitting on my doorstep this Sunday afternoon
while my daughter beats her father
a second time at Mancala, I see a baby lizard
gumdrop green by my feet. Moving
only its paintbrush head, the slender torso remains still
like the red brick canvas
holding us both.

A text from my mother— My
heart bursts with love for you. I can physically
feel it. And my cats stand watch
in the window, linked to the lizard’s every twitch.
Only now it is brown. I Google why

do lizards change colors and learn this tiny guy
is an anole who turns brown
from stress or fright. I blame my husband
who protests his third loss at Mancala, but he points
at our domestic short hairs silent
as spider-silk, watching their prey
scurry up the wall. Love

bombing is something else I recently learned
about. It’s the narcissistic mother’s gambit
in a cycle of manipulation. It almost
always results in a victory. I notice
the lizard is again green
as my daughter counts the glass stones, closing
her wooden case like the eyelids
of a small animal. Can I drive down
and visit you this summer, my mother texts.

I fall for it. Sure!— and she drops her stones
one by one into the divots
of my inner child. I turn brown. Or you could
drive up here, you know.



Candice Kelsey is in her 24th year of teaching English. Her poetry appears in Poets Reading the News and Poet Lore, among other journals; her first collection, Still I am Pushing, explores mother-daughter relationships as well as toxic body messages. She won the Two Sisters Writing Contest for her micro story, was chosen as a finalist in Cutthroat's Joy Harjo Poetry Prize, and was nominated for a Best of the Net and two Pushcarts. Find her at www.candicemkelseypoet.com and @candicekelsey1.
Current Issue
15 Aug 2022

You turned and Hailé was hunched by the counter, holding the Rift in his bare stomach together with his hands.
Their eyes trace the curves of our gears / like birds eyeing the shoreline and we / recite the songs our makers wrote
During recess, we would fight all the time.
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