Moving from Side to Side on a Hook of Wanting, A Poem by Chris Russell

My writing desk is made from unfinished maple.

It has a couple of coats of clear stain on it.

This is more to protect it than to make it look

any different than it does naturally.

I’ve written many poems at this desk.

I suppose it’s a place to commune with the things

I value most, and in this case, poetry.

It reminds me of my father’s desk

which he didn’t let us kids sit at,

and above which his many diplomas hung.

His desk seemed like such a taboo place to enter,

like if I sat down in his chair, I’d suddenly shatter

my childhood and have to carefully move from

side to side on a hook of wanting to be a child,

until I could barely stand being an adult, the way

I imagined he must have done in order to center

on a version of himself he could be proud of.

But at 5 I just couldn’t stop myself from sitting in it,

having to pass by it every time I went to or came

from by bedroom. It was like it was testing me,

and I had to show it I wasn’t afraid to break.

Come to think of it, my father’s desk could have

been my father, impulsively interacting with it

the way that I did.

I think it’s why now writing poems at my own desk

always feels like I’m talking with my father, and

how I know I’ll always be writing them at it.