Once, a family shared a common name and a common tongue, but to keep them safe from outsiders, the father recorded their language and hid it away inside a cave. A young girl, who had heard stories of the days when the family lived in harmony, went in search of the language. As she hiked down toward the beach looking for the mouth of the cave, she called her mother to guide her, but her mother couldn’t understand her. Next, she texted her brother for help, but her brother couldn’t understand her either. Finally, a wise deer showed her the way to the cave, where she begged for the language to be returned. The cave told her this was impossible, but shared one word with her, and afterwards the young girl was the happiest member of the entire family, for she knew she had tried to honor the Balish name. Even though the common tongue was lost, she had tried.
A woman invited her newly widowed mother for a long visit, once things had settled down. Her mother inquired if the woman still kept a corn snake as a pet. When the woman sent a picture of the snake to her mother, she was sure the mother would see the snake was well secured and not threatening. Her mother told her snakes are evil, that they are from the devil. She also told her it was cruel to keep one in a cage. The woman asked if she would please come stay with her for a few weeks now that her mother would be alone. Her mother refused because of the snake, but she would mail the American flag from her father’s funeral as a keepsake. The woman prepared a triangular shadow frame to display the flag safely behind glass. When the box from her mother arrived, the woman found the flag, the shell casings from the military honors, and two books about the cruelty of keeping a snake. The woman realized it wasn’t snakes her mother hated, it was her own daughter.
[she/her] is a poet, educator, and activist in Georgia. Her work appears in Passengers Journal, Variant Literature
and The Laurel Review
, among others. A finalist for a Best Microfiction 2023, she is the author of three collections with two forthcoming from Drunk Monkeys and Fauxmoir. She has five and a half cats. Find her @candice.kelsey.7
(Twitter) and www.candicemkelseypoet.com