Poem: To Those I Cannot Thank

I wish to thank the craftsmen 

At the Lane Furniture Company

Who were probably sweltering–wishing for windows, longing for beer–

When they made the hutch that sustains me today

Certainly, they did not think of me

Pandemic-weary,  a marrowless foot soldier,

All lack and want and apathy.

I am discarded tweezers, rusted thimbles.

The red “all gone” on the cereal bowl. And yet.

113 inches from me 

There is insistent art.

Curves and whorls and carvings. 

Five drawers. Five shelves.

Six doors. (All is not symmetry.)

The drawer handles, round biscuits, demand affirmation always.

Yes, I tell them, you are art.

(They know they are perfection.)

This was not here when he was here. When she was here.

This never saw that normal.

This was an afterthought, a cast off.

A stanchion of the second hand store.

Left so long before I treasured it.

I delighted in the rattling of the glass.

Smacked the cabinet doors shut.

Loaded the drawers with catnip and laser pointers.

Extension cords and canceled checks. 

Hid the mundane behind the bright wood. 

Glass-shrouded, my ancestors’ mute mementos.

I must wonder: who saved the matches,

Why the half a rock–so plain and gray–qualified for a 60-year trek.

How the Cracker Jack toys survived the attic rats and greedy grandchildren.

When the gold-rimmed plates were bought,

And where–Rich’s in downtown Atlanta in that long ago happiness?

On display: my grandfather’s travel alarm clock.

A vase of curled milk glass with hand-painted violets.

My mother-in-law at four. Her face my daughter’s. 

My father’s ruler. (Morris’s ruler?) Good men, gone–worthy of memory.

Brothers of the factory workers  who etched display grooves

on hot, endless days,

Wanting water and shade, heedless of my need


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