Back to Issue Thirty

Potatoes Don’t Have Much to Do with Light



Frying them up and singing,
        I teach my son 
our people are scattered 
        seeds and wax-drops clinging
to every surface fire has left
        immune to flame, 
Blessed are You, Baruch atah,
        he eats too many to count,
Adonai Eloheinu, golden and dripping 
        with sunflower oil and soaked 
in apples, though potatoes
        have little to do 
with stealing fire from the gas stove,
        Sovereign of all, and carrying it 
on my fingertips, Melech haolam, to the candles 
        in the window, but everything
to do with the season of killing
        ducks, so that their rendered fat 
can be found in any house
        along with a forgotten 
December onion, 
        who hallows us, along with light 
enough for eight evenings,  
        asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav, 
and at midnight, my son
        exhales an entire latke and is afraid
of what his body leaves behind,
        so he clings to me like wax,
all night refusing his bed, 
        all night burrowing 
all thirty pounds of him 
        into my bones, commanding us
to kindle, v'tsivanu l'hadlik 
        and in the morning, ner shel,
when he is extinguished enough
        to stay in his own room, I wake 
to find him surrounded in white—
        Tylenol, ibuprofen, Band-Aids,
gauze, the first-aid kit I thought
        was out of reach, scattered
across the floor like a harvest
        of winter potatoes, 
and his swollen belly, aglow 
        with all our people’s
burning starch.               	


Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach emigrated from Ukraine as a Jewish refugee when she was six years old. She is the author of The Many Names for Mother, winner the Wick Poetry Prize (Kent State University Press, 2019) and The Bear Who Ate the Stars (Split Lip Press, 2014). Her second collection, Don’t Touch the Bones, won the 2019 Idaho Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from Lost Horse Press in March 2020. Her newest collection, 40 WEEKS, is forthcoming from YesYes Books in fall 2021. Her poems appear in POETRY, American Poetry Review, and The Nation, among others. Julia is the editor of Construction Magazine. She holds an MFA from the University of Oregon and is completing her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Philly with her two kids, two cats, one dog, and one husband.


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