The Chair - Poem by Patti Masterman
So I rehearsed in my mind what to tell him,
whenever he happened to spy the chair, old and worn,
sitting near the outside door. He would laugh to think
I bought something so old and ugly, even though dirt cheap,
and I knew that if I said it had belonged to my dad since antiquity,
he would buy it, because it just had that look about it,
bedraggled and yellowed- yet durable if nothing else;
as if it had been dragged about someone's yard for decades.
And probably someone's dad had owned it-
or maybe someone, not even a dad,
and not really clever or particularly kind;
some misfit, who sat in it for hours on end, drinking,
sat on the stoop of his house or near it, in that very chair,
and kind of lorded it over the street every afternoon, till dinner.
And just to pass the time, in his mind he made fun
of everyone that passed by him on the street,
of the women and boys and men lesser than himself,
he would have made fun out loud; but for the strong men,
the ones much greater in stature or boldness,
it would have been silently, beneath his breath,
but still very much there.
Perhaps he beat his wife, but only after much drink,
mainly on Saturday nights, maybe to compensate himself for the fact
that other, better off men were out on dates, spending money,
snorting drugs of every sort, while he had only his meager living room
and a boring television screen, the same thing every night,
and it only showed him everything he was not and would never be-
and maybe at those moments, he would beat his wife that much harder.
And then on Sunday, he would maybe have been found in church,
hung over and sober; repentant even, for as long as it lasted-
just till the sermon ended, most likely, and then he would almost
run over the other churchgoers, in his haste to leave,
and start his Sunday afternoon off right- beer in hand,
sitting on the stoop, making fun of passers by,
in the fading consciousness of his morass of sinning,
for six more glorious days of drinking, baiting people, and beating his wife.
So this man I invented gradually became so real to me;
almost more real than the chair itself, and began to threaten
to take me over, so that in the end I had to murder him, in cold blood:
One night he had made empty threats to a scowling man
hurrying down the road, a man who had car trouble and was on foot,
carrying a tire iron, afraid it would get stolen if he left it in the car,
and in rage he had swung the tire iron and let it fly, and it hit the old man
neatly upon the temple, before falling down and leaving that slight dent-
the one in the metal of the arm support-
and the old chair man went down quite dead, sagging in his chair,
spilling his beer upon the chair and down his pants leg,
and after that it was quite safe to go down that street, even peaceful;
and later his wife gave all his things away to the neighborhood thrift store,
and that is how I ended up with this quite ugly old chair.
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