This desk isn’t much to look at. It’s not a show-stopper like the one behind me: blond maple with a black laminate in-laid surface, two wings that fold out, and 9 drawers. Nope, this desk isn’t that desk. No doubt, that desk was COVID command central, a work-from-home office for the better part of the year. It holds masking tape and markers, paper clips and scissors. It’s surface is always cluttered with important mail I don’t want to lose, notes from a board meeting, to-do lists, bank statements, tax returns. She carries a load.

This desk, though? She’s had a humble start. I mean, don’t tell her, but she’s not even actually a desk. She’s really a 3×3’ formica table, saved from the roadside in front of a local motel, alone and out by the dumpster, wearing a sign that said FREE. “Didn’t you say you were looking for something like that?” asked Andrew, as we drove by her. I asked him to turn the car around, and we wedged her into the back of the car, barely able to make her fit. We drove home slowly, with the hatch up, because we didn’t have ropes to hold her in, and we moved her into the home office, where she’s been sitting for a month now, waiting. She’s been alone and askew in the middle of the floor, but this morning I moved her flush against the wall, and right now, I’m taking her out for a spin. I have big plans for her. Auspicious, even.

See, this desk won’t hold motions or draft decisions or cases printed out from Westlaw that come home in my work bag after a long week at the courthouse. She won’t hold utility bills or graduation invites or even my cell phone. I’m not even sure I’ll let my laptop sit on top. This desk isn’t a landing pad. It’s a launching pad. It’s proactive, not reactive. This desk is for writing.

So far this morning, it has held a thin paper notebook with a soft brown cover, a smooth gel ink retractable ballpoint pen (.5mm, purple), and one hot cup of coffee. I’ll admit it: this home office is catch-all, often messy. I actually had to kick a book on Feng Shui out of the way as I moved this desk to its new spot– no lie. But this desk won’t be part of that old scene. It’s a desert island in a rough and wild sea.

This desk is close to the window, facing west, with a view of the tall trees at the edge of my yard, where I will welcome the breeze and the light. On the window sill is a clay music box painted purple and a framed black and white drawing of a barnyard goat, each a middle school art project made by one of my sons. To my right is a bookshelf, where my heroes will watch and silently cheer me on: Anne Lamott, Barbara Kingsolver, Maya Angelou, Tolstoy, Dickens, the poetry book from my very first college English class. And this desk has things to say, too. In her last life at the motel, I’m sure she held baby wipes, takeout food containers, recreational drugs. Her surface is unmarred, but for a constellation of 9 or 10 small scratches, clustered close together and located just left of its center. What caused them? A set of keys? Suitcase wheels? A tire iron?

Already, this desk is giving me peace, a place to breathe and to be. And she will bear nothing but the weight of sharp pencils, new notebooks, lined paper, and my dreams. Here, I will edit out the noise and find my voice. Welcome home, desk. I’m glad to know you.

One thought on “Ode to this Desk by Amy Quinn

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