The Widowed Upholsterer Finally Finishes the Job He Started

The curtains billow
toward him like a skirt
as he tucks the chintz’s
edges into the cedar frame.

He is finishing a job
he started months ago:
covering the chair she used
to lie in on Sunday afternoons.

At times, it seems the chintz
warms to his touch; it yields
without complaint before his calloused
thumbs pressing each golden tack
into its comfortable bed.

The hammer sharply taps
each with an unrequited kiss.
Moss-green and ochre swim
beneath his eyes.
The daddy longlegs
on the ceiling
ignores his sorrow,
quietly stepping
around the corner
and through the door.

The upholsterer finally
finishes the job he started:
a chair sheathed
in failure—a chair
he can live with,
knowing it matches
nothing at all
in the room.


Denise Rogers
from her book The Scholar’s Daughter
Louisiana Literature Press, 2008
Used by permission of the poet.

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