Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Empty {office} chair

The Chairs That No One Sits In

Billy Collins

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.


We are still at home. One child still unwell and the other sniffing, but recuperating. The front porch has been swept. The footpath raked. Flyscreens have been vaccuumed and the insides of windows wiped. I've applied the final cost of Dulux Magnolia to a refurbished hall table and made a second sticky date cake. None of these were on the list of important things to do.

(I'm secretly loving this enforced domesticity with the cosy sounds of sparrows in the garden and the hum of the central heating inside. The postman shall be along shortly on his motorbike and the sun will shift its warmth from one side to the other of the house. I'll boil the kettle again and set out plates of vegemite on SAO biscuits once the children wake from their morning slumber. Such is the gentle rhythm to our days.)


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