“The Larger Half” by Eric Kilpatrick

Ekphrastic Challenge, April 2020: Artist’s Choice


photograph of a banana hanging on a hook against a yellow and black wall

Image: “Mund” by Laura R. McCullough. “The Larger Half” was written by Eric Kilpatrick for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, April 2020, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Eric Kilpatrick


Two daughters and I choose
who gets the banana’s larger half.
I try like my own mom tried

to cut equal: the cake cut just so,
so that even inspecting our plates
parallel we might not argue but love

one another already and know
we were equals. I can picture
a hundred cakes consumed equally.

But holding the knife I wonder—
my younger one takes a run
at the word banana, “ANANA!”—

whether I can map my own kids’
days in the same symmetry. My own
fatherhood seems like an exercise in not

finding wisdom when I need it:
I see Solomon in sweatpants, knife
in hand, hovering over a single banana,

the women wailing in front of him.
We want our love to be exact. We want
to give everything we can clasp onto:

a brush of hair from their forehead,
a joke said again, “Dad again again,”
so that even crumbs become exacting.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
April 2020, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Laura R. McCullough: “When I took this photo, I was struck by the simple absurdity of it. As an artist and writer, I’m always looking for things that inspire me, or that somehow ‘stand out’ from the world going on as normal. My initial thoughts on the photo were fairly literal and one-dimensional, so I was excited to see how different writers brought such unique ideas and perspectives to their interpretations. In ‘The Larger Half,’ the poet has taken an unassuming and warm approach to a deep subject: the insecurity of parenting. In reality, that insecurity spans beyond just the experience of raising children; in a world of inequality, the unfair and the unsolvable, I think sometimes we are all left grappling with crumbs.”

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