Monday, February 17, 2014

All the Presidents' Furniture

I was reading about Freud a month ago and recall someone saying the couch where his patients reclined was the world’s most famous piece of furniture. That made me think about other famous pieces of furniture, such as the chair that Van Gogh immortalized.

If I weren’t American maybe I’d have better examples (the knights’ round table!) but for me a lot of famous furniture is presidential: the desk in the Oval Office, JFK’s rocking chair, and FDR’s wheelchair. When I mentioned this recently it led to a discussion on whether a wheelchair is proper ‘furniture.’ A friend with a loved one in a wheelchair argued it was an instrument of mobility and absolutely not furniture. While primarily a mobilizer, as soon as a wheelchair pulls up to a desk or a table it also serves as furniture. Anyone can park one in the living room, whether they need it to get around or not. Same with a dentist's chair. No disrespect intended.

Many things not designed to be furniture end up as furniture. Take those cable spools that get made into coffee tables. Or milk crates used as modular shelving. A sail can become an indoor hammock. Today I saw a horse carriage seat repurposed as a bench

Anyway, back to the presidents. Surely the best piece of “presidential furniture” is Thomas Jefferson’s revolving book stand. I thought of it this President’s Day when I was sitting at my desk, my eyes traveling from a newspaper, to a book to the computer screen. I think of the stand, which holds five books, as a precursor to internet tabs.


Kathleen said...

Oh, yes! For all the books-in-progress!! (But I might still need one in every room.)

SarahJane said...

I was lucky to see this at Jefferson's home in Virginia. Nice instrument/furniture!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah,

I thought you should know that my Cento, made
up entirely of your words, was published in "Found
Poetry Review".

Travels With Sarah

Across the hotel, a wind almost
shakes the trees from their cages.

I’m afraid of myself here, at the bottom
of the sky.

My heart is the shape of Spain
and even the rain is sick of Italy.

Go out, go out wherever you are.

I hum the lake. Every night it’s there
in my ear, leaving, arriving... and I’m

reminded of a snowless winter light
years ago when I loved someone

too young for me. How we have fallen
behind in the story.

Mind the pigeons plumbing through
the sky like dirty hands through water!

I’ve forgotten what I wished for;
perhaps it has come quietly.

Cento: final lines (except one) of poems by Sarah J. Sloat: “Postcards from Paris”, “From the Back of My Mind”, “Rioja”, “Here On Business”, “Outdoor Cafe, October”, “Hive”, “Waterfall”, “Across the Time Zones”, “Mid-March”, “Train 21” (I changed hand to plural), “Snow Path” (mid-poem line).


SarahJane said...

That's marvelous - congrats Johanna! I'm quite honored, too.

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