“Shaker Furniture” by Ruth Z. Deming


(at the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

 

Narrow wood
and fair
cut from trees
of another America
furniture
plain
worn at the
touch points
shy furniture
caught behind the museum’s glass wall
like a ballerina hooking up her dress.

 

The desk and rocker
the candelabra
upended like a bird on wing,
flow without order or design
in their latest
retirement place. Another
room, dark as
a porch in twilight
houses a high, narrow bed.
We can’t go in.
Who warmed their legs beneath these sheets?
Or dreamt of forbidden touch?

 

Really, it wasn’t so long ago that
they left, half a century merely,
the Great Ones, sitting in
the farmhouse for
their last regal portraits,
turning their ancient heads
like captive eagles
listening
still listening
for the scuff of shoes
on the kitchen floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth Z. Deming has had her poetry published in literary journals including Metazen, Mad Swirl, River Poets, and Eunoia Review. A psychotherapist and mental health advocate, she runs New Directions Support Group for people and families affected by depression and bipolar disorder. She lives in Willow Grove, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia.