A [sort of] Elegy for the Night-Table
The night-table is an ugly redbrown, the paint slapped on thick,
why were you cast off, left at the curb, a lone bastard son?
Someone had their time with you, and then let you pass
unmourned;. Why? Even as I see you there, unburied,
I know that this is temporary, the interstitial place
where death and potentiation live together, in the
shadowlands. Once loved and now lost, but ready to move on.
I carefully scoop you up, and swaddle you in a wool blanket, bringing you home.
I remove your three drawers, standing them up on cardboard,
numbering them, 1,2,3.
I number your insides and lay you down on a cardboard bed.
Donning a denim apron, I snap on skintight blue nitrile gloves.
I pour varnish remover on your sides, and it slowly rolls down,
aided by a paintbrush in my hand. I wait.
The stripper goes to work, slowly melting and bonding to the old paint, crinkling it up in waves.
The scraper pulls the old finish off in convoluted ribbons, revealing
your honey blond grain beneath, still stained in spots.
Wiping you clean with an old tee shirt, I repeat the process with your drawers, scraping halfmoon carved drawer pulls clean,
feeling echoes of forsaking fingers.
I open another gallon can, hiss of the mouth breathing in the air, sides donging outward. Upending over
another rag, I am bathed in the carcinogen-sweet smell of lacquer thinner.
I wash you carefully with the liquid, running steel wool over your skin,
burnishing out remaining stains.
You dry almost as soon as you are wet, the volatile fumes rising.
I carry you outside, and pour more lacquer thinner upon your face, anointing you.
I strike a match and touch you, setting you alight.
Burning with an ephemeral blue flame, almost invisible,
the heat draws out old wax and impurities.
You sparkle, tiny shining dots push up through your skin.
I put everything away, and begin sanding you with 80 grit
then 120 grit sandpaper,
sloughing off scales, the wind carrying the chaff away,
revealing new wood, untouched and ready
for the kiss of chestnut mist.