The Inadequate Lampshade

 at the beginning, we simply wanted
 a new start in the world
 to get away from the usual
 high-rise apartment. and so we
 launched ourselves into the suburbs
 got a house with a real yard
 and inch by inch we undertook
 the slow and unnatural process of
 filling the place with furniture.

 it was a battle against the empty rooms;
 we tried to leverage our suitable furniture
 with simple, low-cost adjustments
 getting a fourth leg for Aunt Emma's couch
 turning an old drum into an end table
 finding a new shade for an old brass floorlamp.

 that shade had so many incarnations
 replaced with those from other lamps
 this one too short, that one too modern
 finally we tried for an improvised
 (we thought artsy) version
 made from wire loops and wrapping paper
 almost chic, but seemingly inadequate
 to the task of providing us with
 the cover of adulthood --
 somehow the seams were always visible
 and no march of dining room chairs
 mirrors and bookcases could
 quite overcome its unrepentant tilt
 hinting at dorm rooms past and
 stubbornly refusing to pose for company.

 that lamp betrayed the extent to which
 our new existence was patched-together
 how easily a slight push might
 split the seam, leaving the frame exposed.
 maybe we should have given in then
 seen the sun-dappled cardboard for what it was;

 it would have saved us so many years
 of struggling to hold things together.

                 -acm  (7/98)