I Am the Custodian of Two Brass Candelabras

Because the main character of every story does not need to be a person,

I will tell you about them. They are two,

crafted at the turn of the 20th century by Antone Kartholl,

my grandfather.


Two “candle trees,” each twelve inches wide,

sixteen inches tall, with five branching arms

that disseminate light in every direction.

I have been their custodian for almost fifty years.

They are top heavy of course, and reside in a corrugated box

in the trunk of my car.  To accommodate them, I turn corners

slowly, which gives them time to regain their equilibrium.

My house is too small for them – one maybe, but not two.

I cannot bring myself to separate them however,

after their being together one-hundred twenty years.

I can’t sell them or give them away either,

because I wouldn’t know how they’d be treated.

Actually, I’m honored to be their custodian.

I do have a large and relatively uncluttered yard.

They might make a strange landscape display,

however, brass is made of zinc and copper.

It has no iron, so it doesn’t rust.

Candelabras have a long history of luminance.

Also, their triangular base guards against tip-ability;

characteristics that could work in a yard.

In order to bond more closely with them,

I watched a rather long and involved video

called “The Corpus Mold Making Process of Brass.”

After the first sentence I was completely in the dark:

“It is assumed you’ve already melted your brass

before you are preparing to make it into something.”

My grandmother May cherished and protected

the candelabras–she also loved Liberace.

Together we watched all thirteen episodes of his show.

Then one evening she shared her dismay,

that Liberace had overdone it with the candelabras.

This was shortly after it became known, that the love of

Liberace’s life was a man; information that emitted

light much more intense than Gran was able to manage.



Jean Cassidy, February 2022

Photos: thanks to Joe and Debra Roberts

wnc poetry, writing

Comments (7)

  • Wonderful, Jean! I was totally surprised with the direction the poem took, and love the image of carrying these heavy items with you in your car, faithful custodian and hauler of a family treasure. By the way I have a photo of my parents, Halloween, 1954, and my father is dressed as Liberace, my mother as his brother George. He is holding a candelabra, and she’s playing a miniature violin.

    • What a great Halloween costume. Lib gave us so many visual images, his smile, pinky ring and his hairdo, even aside from the candelabras.
      When you are able to visit Asheville, I will give you a tour of the candelabras! We do have nice Murphy bed in a private little room
      just your size. J

    • Hi Holly,
      We still miss seeing you, and hope you are well and writing away!
      should you come “north” for a visit please let us know.

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