Let us begin with the stained mahogany armoire, dating to the 1860s, purchased by one J. Alfred Fiegel, New York, banker, investor, family man.
Let us notice the attention to detail: etched, curving leaves; recessed, patterned sunburst circles; masterful woodwork, masterfully conceived and executed. And don’t mind the dust that has accumulated within these small crevices—indeed, this must have been an oversight by whoever polished the piece, as even a simple fabric cleaning rag, pressed upon by the human hand alone, will not reach these inner sanctuaries. Truly, to find such untapped kingdoms one must use the specific pressure of one’s own fingernail; but this is particular work, marked by a particular devotion that most lacking ownership of this piece will never possess.
But surely you, if such a possession found a permanent residence within your home, would not treat this remarkable relic with any kind of neglect. In fact, your extreme pride in it might mirror that of your own appearance—after all, refined company must bear evidence of proper refinement.
And how much, for a piece of living history such as this, you ask.
But instead of price, let us focus on the intimate texture of the pulls—etched ivory, barely chipped, filled with muted red and yellow paint. With the thumb and index finger of each hand, feel the ivory’s cold history on your skin and notice how firmly such old pulls are still affixed—what sensation, even before throwing both doors open, exposing your extravagant yet tasteful wardrobe, completely laid out before your eyes, witness to this perfectly endless opportunity.
Let us take in this rich experience—after all, who else but Mr. Fiegel, you, and I could appreciate such subtle pleasure, such practical convenience, let alone such an object whose painstaking construction, after all these years, overshadows its minor blemishes?
Finally, let us commiserate with this deliberate life.
Trey Moody is the author of Climate Reply (New Michigan Press, 2010) and Once Was a Weather (Greying Ghost Press, forthcoming). His poems have been or will be published in Best New Poets 2009, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, and Washington Square. He lives in Lincoln, NE, where he co-curates The Clean Part Reading Series and blogs at earlymorningcorn.tumblr.com. “Let Us” is his first published story.
Thanks for stopping by the Sonora Review Short Fiction Fortnight. Please stop by on Monday for Anna Prushinskaya.