Ten Chairs

Today in my dentist’s waiting room I thought
of all the chairs that I have ever occupied
from microscopic infant to insignificant adult.

Many was the working day I sat wildly swivelling
my hours away pretending that what I did mattered
on a chair that ought to have been electrified.

The school chair, a wooden platform on metal legs,
made my hands ice cold in winter and summer alike.
Learning was to be uncomfortably hard and solitary.

In my youth I sat on a chair that was more of a stool,
producing metalwork that scraped off my fingerprints,
so that I became just a clocking-in card on a board.

The armchair, that was my Dads, never became mine,
too many bridges to build, many without foundations.
It was not my house, not my chair and not my life.

Church seats are unlike any other chair that one uses,
connected as a congregation and acting as one body,
sharing beliefs I did not share. I stood in the shadows.

I once sat on a jury chair and listened to the evidence,
trying to be responsible when I was really out of my depth.
This chair was temporary and I was glad to see it go.

One of my favourite chairs is to be found in the cinema.
The velvet pile that cushioned my body, transporting me
to a world away from council estates, gangs and bullies.

The hospice visitor chairs the day our mother died
lined up in a multi-coloured row in a windowless room.
A waiting-to-pay-respects chair that I did not want to use.

Lastly, my armchair, where two children were fed their bottles.
I fell asleep so often that mum would come and check on me
finding me cuddling the children with my chin on my chest.



poem © copyright Brian Shirra 2011


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