Kayleb Rae Candrilli


We draped our TV antenna with tin foil, made the thing tendril out like Medusa and tuned into American Idol every week. It's so vintage, now, to dial in to vote for a below average singer, on the corded landline, again and again until we felt our voices heard. We all needed some democracy to get us through the week. Each week was harder than it should have been. But my mother has always even seen the glass full, even as she was beaten, even as her china was smashed on the floor, even as she was resuscitating my father again—his face ashy until it wasn't, his face dead until it wasn't. It's 2020 now, American Idol is still somewhere on the air, and the kids have brought tie dye back. I folded each of my mother's seven tie dye shirts every Sunday for years, felt the fabric thin between my thumb and forefinger. This is not a metaphor, though we were all fraying. There are no words to frame a mother's fatigue. My mother served dinner on paper plates, even though she knew the world was smoldering, even though she knew climate change would come for her children first.


Above the smoke I
only smell the ocean and
my mother's perfume.





[Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt's Oblique Strategies]