Assembling The Parts

By Peter Halstead

Naming the items is good for a start,
Although we know them all mostly by heart,

The crossbars, and glue, and magical dowels,
Which act as the direction’s coupling vowels,

Providing at least a tangible link
To what the foreign inventors might think

Before the translators worked their own magic
And turned the imagery visibly tragic,

Leaving only the box’s old-fashioned clue
As to what the contents might possibly do:

What appears, for instance, in the text as a splice
Is in reality something less nice,

Which from its hiding place evilly grins
At its coup d’état of illiterate sins,

Lowly and foul, it’s ascended the heights
And holds our trembling lives now in its sights,

Endowing the photograph’s seeming frivolities
With disturbingly close-to-humanoid qualities,

Not to mention the omnipresent pair
Of screws which dependably never are there,

A philosophical comment on whither or whether
Mechanical attachments can bring us together—

Like the laughing instructions’ glowing shot
Of the model no one has ever in history got,

Meaning, perhaps, that a brace or a joint
Isn’t the factory’s ultimate point,

But that eschatological meaning increases
If the object tomorrow is lying in pieces—

Read the manual: togetherness counts,
Not life reduced to its naked amounts:

No resolutions ever can come
From itemized pairs to a total sum:

Dowels and crossbars on the floor,
Reunited, mean much more

Than our stumbling efforts to discover
Teleological symbols like the cover

(In the limbo of its numbered parts
Torn to pieces in our hearts),

Whose heaven, made from voiceless things,
Is a world (when finished with us) which sings.

Rue de Varenne
July 21st, 2001

October 21st, 2008


Having made my revolving Ikea chair, I sat in it and wrote a little hello to it, the equivalent of lying in the bed one has just made, although I hope that out of all that lying, the odd truth emerges.