Poem in which two trans boys take their first marital dance in the water
To see the ocean through
the shark’s gills you must
have put yourself in his mouth.
This is not victim blaming, but instead
an admittance of kink. The ocean
is not your home, and to be eaten
there fulfills many dark hungers. The way
a gill opens to both succumb
and to breathe is so vaginal, isn’t it?
At night, my partner checks my glands
to assess my health and my readiness
to inhale water. Finally, I am ready
to become what I wasn’t.
On the benefits of learning by example
I’m always writing about heavy things: headstones,
fathers, a feather painted with blood. Below the equator
bats are boiling in the night sky. I know this is the product
of global heat, humans, but all I remember is my father
taking bat after bat from the night sky with a BB gun.
The first thing I ever learned is that it’s not hard
to kill. He held them together,
dead in his hands and rolling like tiny red plums.
When I fall in love with my partner it’s as fast
as a downed bird, smooth and in
a tail spin.
Our queer bodies are not meant to live
together, in such blood red
harmony. But some sins are more sinful than others.
Sodom and Grace are all wrapped up
in the backwoods and yes, I will always be loving
my partner just like this—soft
and dusted in Pennsylvania dirt. As far
as I walk from my roots, they grow to reach—
and that teaches me everything
I need to know about being good.
KAYLEB RAE CANDRILLI is author of What Runs Over with YesYes Books. They serve as an assistant poetry editor for BOAAT Press and live in Philadelphia with their partner. You can read more here.