Aislinn Hunter in her contribution to A Ragged Pen: Essays on Poetry & Memory develops a conceit comparing a poem and furniture.
I believe when we read a poem we enter a room. A room fashioned by the poet from his, or her, own life, from a sense of the fragmentary world, from a preference for certain kinds of language, certain kinds of furniture.
It just so happens that I was also reading John Terpstra’s Naked Trees close to the time I was plunged into the essays of A Ragged Pen. There is a moment in the deciduary sequence that the narrator comments on a group assembled around a table for dinner. In “Headiness” our narrator likens the legs of the table to the trunks of trees, and even at one point “wanted to say that I saw a crown shaken by the breeze” when “everyone burst with laughter”. This sensitivity to the traces of the wood in the furniture is played out in the conclusion to “Prunus serotina” where veneration borders on fetish worship.
Wandering through the ranging shades of Black Cherry; the cream, fawn, chocolate, rouge. And its figured grain, an inner life exposed. See. Feel how smooth. Voyeur to this flesh of wood you’re privileged to touch. Privy to the naked lives of trees.
Poem, furniture, tree, each demands attention. Each act of attending places the body and its store of preferences in contact with what has grown and invites some musing about those growth conditions that led to what is beheld and held.
And so for day 1064