January 16, 2013

Kristin George Bagdanov

HOLDING LIGHT

My father took me to the shed
Sunday afternoons to fix piecemeal
wood into frames for selling.

He didn’t talk unless
something displeased him,
like when I tripped over the scrap pile
and sent the bag of nails flying.

Then he would open his mouth
and shut his hand. He’d pound me
like a fence post, say he’d fix
that posture if it was the last thing.

On quiet days we worked
in separate ends of the shed,
sanding and squaring as light built
and collapsed around us

until the dark air finally came
inside. Then father would twist his head
until just the corner of his cobalt eye
met mine and bark for the lantern.

And some days he would strike
the match himself, hovering over
wick until he felt flame lick
through fifty years calloused on his palm.

On those days he would turn
his face and mutter at me,
and I would stand beside him
and I would hold the light.

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012

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Kristin George Bagdanov: “Truthfully, the seed for this poem came from a reality home-makeover show on a very boring morning at the gym. A very small seed, rest assured, but once again it reminds me that to write is to be aware, to find reason for pause during even the most ordinary and mundane activities. In addition to making poetry out of banalities, I pride myself in creating catchy jingles, usually while making homemade soup for an ever-increasing quantity of people.”