The table beneath my notebook is some kind of dark wood. Inherited from my grandparents who are winding down the process of relinquishing their possessions, divesting of their physicalities. (Soon all that will be left will be their bodies, even those possessions themselves eventually stripped of bone mass and slowly-oxidized carbon.)
The table under my notebook is a dark wood, delicately stained, the grain running width-wise as if the nearly-black lines were laid with a fine-haired brush that somehow dug its memory with soft certitude into the plane of hardwood. The chairs match. Some kind of spindled, narrow-backed Shaker style, they. Worn down. Faded cushions. Legs loose enough that I wonder if they would hold a 10-year-old’s weight, leaning full back on only two of the tired legs.
The table underneath my notebook has a grain as repetitive as scripture. Fine-grooved line, flat of wood, two or three more delicate grooves, another dark flat. I wonder at the future of this table: marker stains, long division carved by pencil pressed through worksheets, vinegar-and-baking-soda etchings working in and amongst the grains.
When a tree grows, its grain runs along the direction of its skyward expansion. Cells form varying layers of vessels that carry water up and sugars down. The cell walls grow up against one another, bowing slightly like freight-filled rivers along their courses. Here, a branch joins while there, another small one diverges with a curly-headed cluster of leaves. And there, the pattern of the grain flows with divergent needs, some cells expanding slightly, others contracting.
The table under my writing pad carries the irregularities of these old-growth patterns, these fluid treaties, these biological comings-and-goings.
The table wobbles, shakes slightly. The 2-year-old is teasing the 7-year-old. The 4-year-old hollers something wild and sunshiny and spirit-filled. And the 9-year-old pauses for a minute in the middle of his football drawings.
There is a hammering of a game at the far end of the table and a scratching of a pencil somewhere else.
And now is my time to make lunch. Peanut-butter-and-jellies.
I lay my pad down and set my pen somewhere along the grooves.