Fiat Lux

The snapped lights-out in my childhood bedroom / where roses on satin turned ghost-pale by streetlamp

A portrait of poet Kateri Lanthier

If cinema is time plus light,
I’ve got a sequel to Marclay’s “The Clock.”
It begins with my grandad’s “fiat lux,”
delivered in a fond mock-heroic tone,
followed by a montage of the cheap and dear
switches I’ve handled in a long life cycle.
The pull chains, the panels of sticky plastic,
the button on a hotel’s fancy brass bouillotte.
The snapped lights-out in my childhood bedroom
where roses on satin turned ghost-pale by streetlamp.
Lights beyond my reach
(oh, how I would reverse this)
in the theatre where a stranger grabbed my thigh
when the lights dimmed before “Trop Belle Pour Toi.”
(I leapt up and left. How does it end?)
The night lights for nursing, the bedtime story light.
And this: the bakery boss at my first job
who led me down the cellar stairs
to the cold dark storeroom, then leaned close,
growling, “This way, you won’t forget!”
placed his hand over mine,
and set our hands on the switch.

Kateri Lanthier
Kateri Lanthier was awarded the 2013 Walrus Poetry Prize. Her most recent collection is Siren.

New Year, New Stories

Hello and Happy 2023!
As we start this new year, we need you now more than ever. In these uncertain times, it is crucial that reliable media remains available to everyone. That is why we depend on your support to keep our journalism accessible and independent. From the economy to political polarization, the challenges our society is facing this year are too important for half truths. At The Walrus, the future of journalism is funded by engaged citizens like you. Together, we can preserve the integrity of Canadian media and ensure that our democracy thrives. Will you join us?
With thanks,
Jennifer Hollett
Executive Director
Jenn