someday a table, 1998

Posted: June 9, 2020 in marjorie celona
Tags: , , , ,

 

for Anthony Schrag

 

I got this sudden burst of energy as I was walking no strutting—really
actually strutting down commercial drive . . . it was one of those walks
where I knew people were whispering, what is she so happy about?
in my head I built you a table
out of cardboard and chopsticks and christmas lights
I put it in the living room with foil-covered urban organix bins
for chairs
and sprinkled coconut
the idea died
and a new table appeared
balanced on our typewriters
a crippling structure of letters, numbers and metal
the sticky sides of envelopes holding it together
no, I said,
our bones will hold us together
I will build us a table of bones
and our skin will keep it dry
oh . . .
safeway let me down
I couldn’t build a table of sourdough bread and pineapple juice
so
I bought you some granola
in the hope that
our teeth crunching down
would emulate hammers
and a table would appear.

 

***

[Editor’s note:] My thanks to the author for permitting me to publish the following email message that accompanied this piece. It’s as gorgeous as the poem itself.

“I let myself forget the news this morning and spent some time with this picture.  It took me back to 1998, to Vancouver, to the corner of Broadway and Commercial where I once lived.  It took me back to a time when all my money went to cigarettes and music and nights out dancing.  I was 17.  I wrote this poem for my roommate.  We didn’t have a table to eat at.  We were sick of eating on the floor.  Now we’re both professors.  We haven’t seen each other for six years.  He lives in Edinburgh; I live in Oregon.  We’re both married. I have a daughter; he has a son.  We have tables.  We have all we ever wanted, really.

So I offer this to you in order to preserve that time for me—that time of wanting so much and having so little.  A time when I would gather up cigarette butts, twist the leftover tobacco out of them, and roll up a new smoke.  A time when anything found on the street was a kind of treasure.”

 

***

Marjorie Celona is the author of two novels: Y, published in 2012, and How a Woman Becomes a Lake, forthcoming in 2020. Y was published in eight countries, won France’s Grand Prix Littéraire de l’Héroïne for Best Foreign Novel, was a #1 Indie Next Pick, and was longlisted for Canada’s Giller Prize. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Marjorie has published stories, book reviews, and essays in The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, The Southern Review, Harvard Review, The Sunday Times, and elsewhere. Born and raised on Vancouver Island, they teach in the MFA program at the University of Oregon.

http://marjoriecelona.com

 

 

 

***

Up Next:

“For starters, she didn’t exist.”

 

 

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