by Kendra L. Tanacea
For My Grandfather
Every Sunday, church. In his gold shirt.On Easter, in his black overcoat and buttonholedcarnation, he carved lamb from a spit in our yard.Later, we danced in a tight circle. Opa! Papu.When his daughter was born, he paid for the deliverywith an inlaid chest, fitting all those pieces together: the concerned doctor, chin in hand, the feverish child, the lantern’s honey-stained light.On April Fools’ Day, his wife’s birthday, he carved the skin off an orange in a continuous spiral, recomposed it into a perfect whole, placed it in the wooden fruit bowl.When she could no longer speak, he made her an easy chair. And combed her gray hair and built us a home with its boneson the outside. All those years of scaffolding.After thirty years of piecework, after arthritis bowed his fingers, he carved a chair for the bishop with a relief of St. George, riding a rearing horse,spearing the open-mouthed dragon.He carved at night. Steady hand, chisel,curlicues of wood. Sawdust resting in the wrinklesof his pants, on his white mustache, in the hollow of his good ear. When he became ill, he sank into the love seatby the plate-glass window. In silhouette, his Einstein hair, Philip of Macedon nose, and slight paunch that grew with cancer. That February before he died, he carved Lincolnout of snow. Great man seated on his chair,chiseled features. At dusk, he splashed it with water and, overnight, it iced like marble.