If I were an artist I’d paint this room,
a living room it is and one in front of which
I am entitled to put the first person singular possessive,
as if I were the lighting designer who created this morning sunshine
and divided it by fifty-six mullioned panes,
the dyer who spilled it across the fabric of the furniture,
the refinisher who varnished it on oak floors which someone,
a lifetime ago, troubled to inlay with a double dark boarder,
as if I were one of a dozen children
who sat to countless dinners at what is now
a library table, into which I did not grind
my first food stains, nor apply the paint
still flecking its underside spring green.
Oh I’ve read the bright books lining the end wall
but didn’t write one of them, nor did I design
their jackets or make their paper from trees,
mix the ink, set the type.
And I did not weave the rich complex rug
in rich complex Afghanistan,
or wear the Sarawak basket on my back
in the forests of Borneo, nor was I the animal
who gave its skin for the lid.
It wasn’t I who freed the African stool from a trunk
with rough tools to bend its knees bowlegged
between brown earth and brown sky,
but it is the flesh of my back
this morning sun’s a radiant heater to,
and if the sun grows too hot it’s my sweat,
and it’s my broken face slivered
in the eighteenth century mirror,
fire-singed and thinned.