My Mother’s Sofa

She lived in the city of Mozart, so rococo was second nature. She chose a sofa so redolent of Baroque features, it rolled out of the warehouse on its many curves and swirls. It came to rest in our living room, all carved curlecues, easy to bang the back of head against when your laughter pealed out. Not that there was much laughter in that house.

Within days the burnt ochre leather caused heartache and questioning. Too bright? What would the neighbours say about the ripeness of that shade? Would they sit and tug and scratch it whenever they came to visit? But very few people ever entered our house.

Better safe than sorry, though. So she covered it in green velvet, tailor-made cover with frills so rich, it could stand up by itself when you took it off for washing. Those frills swept all the way down to the arched wooden legs, even as they yearned away from under the stifle, all tip-toe. So hard to vacuum underneath.

A few months later she realised the velvet might get worn too quickly, that she might require a new cover …oooh, say every ten years or so. In came the casual throw, loosely draped over the pool-table green. Cheap polyester cream with tassles and shiny stripes, too thin to keep its distance when backsides sunk into it. My mother was fanatic about cotton, but hated ironing, so polyester made do. It clung to clothes, turned static, and we spent most conversations not actually seated on the sofa, but straightening out its multiple covers.

But I digress. After decades of discomfort, my father’s weary bones can no longer keep that horror in our house. But it’s an expensive horror and we want to ensure that we get the best possible price for it. For Sale: Baroque Sofa, Nearly New.

Teletubbies

We only really come aliveOld-fashioned TV

in front of deadened roar of others,

canned laughs still rouse us to sardonic smiles,

while tortuous plots free up our sneers.

Looking carefully ahead, not at each other,

each lost in our singular, unshareable thoughts.

We gossip about them in a semblance of emotion

so trite we stop caring long before the sentence ends.

As unadventurous as last night’s dinner

no miracle can reheat.

 

Not facing or squaring the truth and the gape,

ever silent we cling to our sofa

and the myth of our togetherness.