Friday, June 1, 2012

June 2012 Poetry Challenge - a Furniture Poem

Thomas Hardy wrote a poem about “old furniture” and the thoughts it inspired in his mind. I have a similar reaction as I pass by my mother’s china cabinet or rocking chair (which are now in my house), or visit an antique store.

The chair, in which Mother was sitting when the picture above was taken has its own interesting story. Maybe I'll write a poem about it this month.

Old Furniture

I know not how it may be with others
Who sit amid relics of householdry
That date from the days of their mothers' mothers,
But well I know how it is with me

I see the hands of the generations
That owned each shiny familiar thing
In play on its knobs and indentations,
And with its ancient fashioning
Still dallying:

Hands behind hands, growing paler and paler,
As in a mirror a candle-flame
Shows images of itself, each frailer
As it recedes, though the eye may frame
Its shape the same.

On the clock's dull dial a foggy finger,
Moving to set the minutes right
With tentative touches that lift and linger
In the wont of a moth on a summer night,
Creeps to my sight.

On this old viol, too, fingers are dancing -
As whilom--just over the strings by the nut,
The tip of a bow receding, advancing
In airy quivers, as if it would cut
The plaintive gut.

And I see a face by that box for tinder,
Glowing forth in fits from the dark,
And fading again, as the linten cinder
Kindles to red at the flinty spark,
Or goes out stark.

Well, well. It is best to be up and doing,
The world has no use for one to-day
Who eyes things thus--no aim pursuing!
He should not continue in this stay,
But sink away.

~ Thomas Hardy

A few years ago, I wrote a poem about a particular piece of furniture, the gold-colored recliner in which I rocked many of my grandchildren. When I see it, I often think of my first grandchild, Florence Irene Penrod, who died shortly before her seventh birthday. She was the first child I rocked to sleep in the recliner. So the chair often brings poignant memories of Florrie. Though the poem only mentions two grandchildren, there were several others I rocked to sleep in that same chair, especially Florrie’s younger siblings who spent a lot of days and nights in my home while their sister was in the hospital. This poem—with the chair as prompt—recalls a journey of healing from loss. The sorrow of losing Florrie will remain with me always, but in time, I recalled more of the beautiful memories and learned to smile when I thought of her.

The Gold Recliner

Does this gold recliner remember
how many times Florrie rested
her head on my shoulder,
how she giggled at funny sounds,
how I sang “Don’t Fence Me In”
and “You Are My Sunshine”
as we rocked and fell into slumber.
Does the recliner know
she’d have been twenty
this year had she lived?

Now Lucas climbs between
the recliner’s enfolding arms,
five-year-old hands grasping
this week’s favorite superhero,
curls his tired body
into the golden lap to rest.

Only a couple years ago
Lucas let me hold him
as we read the same books
each afternoon, and finally one day
I could sing “You Are My Sunshine”
to this other grandchild,
after all those years
it had turned to dust in my throat.

~ Wilda Morris

This poem was first published on the website of Highland Park Poetry,, after winning in the adult non-resident division of their 2011 Poetry Challenge.

June Poetry Challenge

The challenge for June is to write a poem inspired by furniture. According to, “Furniture refers to moveable things like tables, chairs and sofas that are used to make a house or building a comfortable place to live.”

You may write a formal poem or free verse. If formal, please specify the form. The deadline is June 15. Poems submitted after the June 15 deadline will not be considered.

Copyright on poems is retained by their authors.

Due to formatting restrictions on the blog, all poems should be left justified. As much as I would enjoy a sparrow-shaped poem, I am unable to publish indentations, shaped poems or even extra spaces between words or phrases.

Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If your poem has been published in a periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data.

How to Submit Your Poem

Send your poem to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for [dot]. Be sure provide your e-mail address. Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name, exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win, at the end of the poem.

© 2012 Wilda Morris