“Putting Together Ikea Furniture” by Clint Margrave

Clint Margrave


Who had to die to get to this moment? 
Your ass planted on the ground 
of the back patio, 
putting together this cheap table 
and chairs from Ikea. 
Think of the wars that had to be fought, 
the bloodbaths, 
the overthrowing of kings and kingdoms. 
The loggers who cut the wood 
in the forests of Romania, 
and Lithuania and Latvia, 
and in Lowndes, Alabama. 
Or the young environmentalist 
tweeting from her wooden table 
about the dangers of deforestation. 
Think of the men and women sweating in factories 
in China and Vietnam and Malaysia and Myanmar, 
in Poland and North America. 
The workers who built the skyscrapers, 
harnessed on platforms 100 stories high, 
feet dangling over cities, 
so you can try to decipher these directions 
drawn up by some Swedish surrealist 
in a corporate high rise, 
eating meatballs at his desk. 
The welders who melted steel 
and shaped it and reshaped it 
into containers, 
the cranes that lifted those containers off ships, 
the longshoreman who unloaded the cargo 
at the port of Los Angeles, 
miles from where you live. 
Think of the men in yellow hardhats 
driving bulldozers over dirt, 
laying gravel and asphalt, 
tar on their shoes 
and under their fingernails 
and in their lungs and noses. 
The roads and freeways and overpasses, 
the bridges so trucks from the port 
can deliver this furniture 
to the warehouse, 
where other trucks will deliver 
it to your front door. 
Here, in this house that you rent,
think of the carpenters, 
the cement mixed for the foundation, 
the original plumbers and electricians 
older than your dead grandparents, 
where tonight you and Diliana 
will eat dinner in the backyard, 
the food she’s assembled 
on this table you’ve assembled, 
an open bottle of wine 
under a gorgeous June sky, 
think of the sacrifice it took 
to make this moment happen, 
the tightening of things, 
the plugging things in, 
the hammering things down 
to hold it all together.

from Rattle #81, Fall 2023


Clint Margrave: “I write poetry because I’m not good at fixing anything.” (web)

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