POETRY BY VIOLETTA LEIGH
On the last day of the month, we prowled the alleys of East Van
from Main to Nanaimo for relics abandoned by movers eddied
by a fraught clock who discarded their belongings too cumbersome
to load into the box of a truck. Sometimes, it wasn’t worth the hassle –
I understood, having compartmentalized my life into a suitcase
for years and dragged my being between cities, where
I pitched my marrow in rented rooms and furnished
with the bare minimum: an aesthetic austere and intentional.
A borrowed mattress shoved chic against the wall and creased
pocketbooks sheafed a cinderblock and scrap wood shelf:
a collection italicized with crisp bundles of dried roses,
sunned inverted to saccharine dusk and an empty wine bottle
with candle tucked in the neck, molting fragrant beeswax
into a serpent that swelled around the glass. In the closet,
a collection of wire hangers drifted on the bar, a frequent specter
of the previous tenant. They curated my collection of vintage lace:
nylon slips, skirt suits hemmed for brevity, and eighties dresses that
frothed audacious from the statuesque lift of my shoulders.
On Moving Day, at the hook of an alley: occasional chairs pawed
grit sediment shushed at the storm drain with seat claw pilling
from a languorous feline, swooped back and purling
for a meal. The nubbing could be shaved with a straight razor and
the coax of velvet refreshed, if salvaged before the course of rain
bed rot in its cushion. Gut a stereo cabinet of its brittle copper
wiring and stalled platter to repurpose its midcentury minimal
symmetry to storage: a cabinet of oiled walnut, far more practical
for contemporary purpose - although lengthy in a city famished
for square footage. On that spring morning, knotted cherry blossoms
waved with the ocean’s airy tumbles, waking the back of my neck
with last night’s rain. Four cottage chairs waited by
the cuff of a dumpster, spindled from oak and rippled with tigerish grain.
We piled all four into the pick-up truck’s flatbed and rumbled
to the house on Clark, where on the porch we rubbed fragments from
the new seating with rags torn from old towels, then convened the resurrected
furnishing around the kitchen table lichened with ring marks.
Years caroused with Saturday nights supped by flung open
doors and the cottage chairs welcomed guests who bladed their
backing with shoulders crescented in laughter and leaned too far on
slanted legs to raise a toast with oxidized thrift shop goblets, (god,
the lead we must have consumed as young artists fatalistic to a look,)
wine shivering at the lip of the chalice, shared from jugs of
tongue-numbing plonk pitched into with pocket change that charmed
a tannin blush onto its drinkers. The spindle legs held their stance, but
began to wobble, while splinters frayed ominous at the base of the
divided backbone and mummified glue creaked. When the chair devolved
into potential hazard, stretched to design limits by the linoleum bacchanal
of kitchen parties, it was moved to the altar of embers
at the fireplace framed in golden seventies brick. Someone would set down
her drink and split the chair with swift cuts from a hand axe
into an embrace of kindling with the seat separated into two sheaves and
each spindle twisted from its sheath. We kept our fingers higher
than flame as our treasure burned, transposed from leisure
to incandescence. Three bodies squeezed onto the chaise lounge,
its springs dipped and creaking, with chartreuse velvet paled
by age. Others cluttered onto the sawdust prickled rug, with its
mina-khani pattern of peacocked daisies, to watch the fire cozy
into its fresh fuel and we reminisced as the chair burned to Memory Wood.
Anyone who shared a moment with the piece recounted their anecdote
and all present savoured the fable, a verbal amuse bouche kippered
to collective memory, as the fire tendered the room and
smoke retired up the chimney.
Violetta Leigh holds a BA from the University of Victoria with a double major in Creative Writing/Environmental Studies and is a Technical Writer certified by the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her fiction has been published by SAND Journal and Litro Magazine, poetry by the Heartworm Reader, and editorial by MONTECRISTO Magazine. Black Flowers Arts Journal published a chapbook of her poems: Night Paces. She thinks perfection is ugly and in the things humans make, wants to see scars, failure, disorder, distortion. Find her online at www.violettaleigh.com or IG: violetta.leigh.
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