Holding Light

By Kristin George Bagdanov

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

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