It starts with a dead animal:
a slack-jawed sawdust-stuffed Grouper
mounted over the sixty-inch screen.
Its glassy eyes fix on the ink-riddled
paper in the man’s hands, counting
the empty squares. The formaldehyde
preserved former swimmer longs for a time
when its gills were saturated with sea water
instead of mottled paint. It uses every particle
of its phantom brain to concentrate
on “salt chuck,” a nine-letter phrase for home.
The man gets ready for work:
a compromise with the overworked
electric razor leaves him exhausted
before he has even turned the lock
behind him. He murmurs goodbye to his
kingdom of build-it-yourself furniture.
He imagines the untreated Nornäs
bookcase whispering Swedish nothings
in his eager ear as he shuts the door
behind him – we will always love you,
he’s sure it assures on behalf of the others.
We will make a home with you.
They wait for this moment:
the heavy click in the keyhole
reverberates over nagging floorboards,
catching between the Stocksund’s
submissive cushions. The tables
use this time to stretch rigid, wooden
bones. The throw pillows relax
their stiff, saxony skeletons. A wide
mouthed lamp named Hektar blinks
overhead. The furniture collectively
catalogues its concerns – a verbal
list of complaints lodged by an array of
long, beautiful names that sit heavy
on cheap American tongues. Meanwhile,
a lone ottoman peers through
slit Venetian blinds, trying to remember
the truck bed it was brought in on, longing
for the warmth of sunlit air on its frame.