Sunday, June 10, 2012

sometimes there is a little table

Sometimes you come across a poem that gives you those - damn I wish I wrote that - sort of feelings.  And when I recently read this one by Billy Collins that's how I felt. Because it's something I've noticed and found both poignant and funny and telling.

The photo above is at the front of our house, the shady side.  And we do sit there, though at rather odd times.  On evenings when it's very hot, or late afternoon.  Sometimes one of us will sit on the front step, and the other two on the chairs.  We've sometimes brought the dog out, and let him sit on the cool pavement.  But you know, very often, the chairs are empty.  And the neighbours have the same sort of set up, and their chairs, too, sit empty, and the two sets of empty chairs with a table in between echo each other across a suburban yard.

T H E   C H A I R S   T H A T   N O   O N E   S I T S   I N


You see them on porches and on lawns
down by the lakeside,
usually arranged in pairs implying a couple

who might sit there and look out
at the water or the big shade trees.
The trouble is you never see anyone

sitting in these forlorn chairs
though at one time it must have seemed
a good place to stop and do nothing for a while.

Sometimes there is a little table
between the chairs where no one
is resting a glass or placing a book facedown.

It might be none of my business,
but it might be a good idea one day
for everyone who placed those vacant chairs

on a veranda or a dock to sit down in them
for the sake of remembering
whatever it was they thought deserved

to be viewed from two chairs
side by side with a table in between.
The clouds are high and massive that day.

The woman looks up from her book.
The man takes a sip of his drink.
Then there is nothing but the sound of their looking,

the lapping of lake water, and a call of one bird
then another, cries of joy or warning—
it passes the time to wonder which.

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