On Buying a Writing Desk after the Death of My Daughter’s Best Friend, by Barbara Conrad

On Buying a Writing Desk after the Death of My Daughter’s Best Friend
by Barbara Conrad

for Michael

When the decorator tells me
the table I like is too big for my space,
I tell the woman I’ll take it
and think of the boy who couldn’t be coached.
The coach said so — would watch him
blowing free in his own wind

up and down the soccer field, defiant
ringlets of hair a halo on his unleashed body.
The wood on this table is bold beneath my fingers,
a rich heart pine the color of honey,
a good place to write these words.
I rub its shiny skin, and think about the boy
bearing down on the goal, the boy too big
for the soccer field,
the school,
the gravity of this earth.
Watch this, the coach would say before a play,
and after the shot — Did you see that?

Comment: Sometimes when a story, image or life moment is too painful for words, a writer needs to focus on something else. During those sullen weeks after young Michael’s death, I just happened to be combing antique stores for a writing desk when a decorator presented the “something else”. The absurdity of her rules about size, space and conventionality stunned me toward the image of that precious boy who was anything but conventional. The embrace of the table became the metaphor I needed to not only find my words but to make them celebratory.

Bio: Barbara Conrad is the author of a chapbook, The Gravity of Color (2007) and editor of Waiting for Soup (2004), an anthology of poems and stories from her creative writing class with the homeless in Charlotte, NC. She has been published in Tar River Poetry and other journals and anthologies such as Icarus and Kakalak where her work received honorable mentions. In 2009 she was nominated for a Pushcart prize.

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