The Task

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At first the alcohol-heavy finish pooled or Ran down the wood, dried like corners of sagged flesh. When wet, some portion of it wouldn’t spread, Would remain partial and uneven.

He imagined cloth made of spun metal fibers Able to smooth the blotched and crystallized surfaces, Or brushes and solvents that would produce chromatic ripples The grain in his old chest-of-drawers had. He made up a way working with the sun and an electric fan. It needed less finish, a heavier stroke.

He would apply two coats, loved the exotic High grit numbers — like 600 — of wet sandpaper He used to treat the initial layer, And hand-rubbed finish down the doweled legs Of ones that needed it. Sometimes on a foot’s inside half He’d leave a swath uncoated, as if missed or unnecessary.

He thought of the family that might buy the piece, of their girl on A weekend afternoon, belly to their carpet, Her discovery dry, smooth, a sand colored mark in the glaze. She might forget it, or years later — it might be Out the car window a thickness of sea dunes, Not announcing itself, falling into place.