A Desk Homecoming

I am sitting at my desk today, writing, for the first time in three months. I thought I would be spending the morning at PT but it turns out I read my calendar wrong — which only makes the fact that I am here, with extra work time, that much sweeter.

My desk lives in my office (aka guest room), at the back of the third floor of our corner row house. It shares this top level with my daughters’ bedrooms. The desk is situated partway into the bay that projects off the rear of the room so that when I sit, my back is to the bay’s three windows and I face out into the small room and can see through the door to the space of the rest of the third floor and house.


This morning, sun throws my shadow onto the desk from behind and warms my shoulders, and if I look out the side window I can see the first of the three Okame Cherries that we planted along the side of the house when we moved here 11 years ago and that — despite the indignities perpetrated weekly on their branches by the trash and recycling trucks that wedge their way down our narrow, 19th century side-street — has managed to extend its reach up past the level of the second floor ceiling and into my view. Its deep pink blossoms began to open yesterday, starting at the bottom of the tree and working their way up. Finches and sparrows will soon gather in the glow and pluck the flowers off one by one. I am certain they congregate mainly on this tree because of the feeders that share its pit, but I have never figured out what, if anything, they take from the buds — nectar? droplets of water? On bad days I assume that it is just their way of passing the time and ungraciously thumbing their beaks at me, their feeder. The seed ran out a week ago though, so maybe this year the birds will forget us and let the blooms stay suspended a bit longer before ceding to gravity on their own as they make way for new leaves. Honestly, though, I may just bask in glow of the pink shadow that the plucked blossoms form on the pavement beneath the tree, and laugh.

Since January 6 — D-day for my podiatric post-op nightmare — I have written. Just not here. Life ground almost immediately to a halt when my foot literally exploded, and though I gradually got back to work I wrote first from my lap in bed, later from my lap on the couch and, once calluses developed on the heels of my hands and tendonitis in my right elbow (oh, the palimpsest of indignities), from an adjustable, portable lap desk in the den armchair.


My old friend Liz has just begun penning a poem a day for National Poetry Month, all prompted by things you would find on/in a desk, and she offhandedly asked friends and colleagues to share photos if inspired. My desk, not surprisingly — and like many other lateral surfaces in my house — has achieved peak accumulation during its extended vacation. To wit, here is what greeted me and my laptop from the center of the desk when we arrived this morning (to address the periphery, too, would take all day so I won’t): a mailing announcing that Cricket’s Odyssey and Muse magazines have merged, atop a copy of Ann Lamott’s Bird By Bird, atop a journal, atop an article about South Korea’s haneyeo or “sea women”, atop an SCBWI Bulletin atop, a North Creek Nursery plant catalog; a grey-black, river-washed stone with a stripe of white through its center, aka ‘the ice cream sandwich’; a Cornell Lab of Ornithology flyer on Citizen Science plus two packs of their ‘Celebrate Urban Birds’ Lemon Queen Sunflower Seeds, together bridging the white envelope they came in with a drawing of an un-named animal by a colleague’s 3-year old daughter on a pink sheet of paper beneath, plus a Vaccine Information Statement about HPV that partly covers my daughter’s cartoon of a ladybug who lives in an avocado; a pin cushion; a gravity-driven, perambulating cast-plastic (and hand painted) Moomintroll; a roll of trace on top of two mock-ups of my nine year-old’s whale and dolphin valentine (“Whale you be my valentine?” “Dolphinately!”); a pile of more native plant nursery catalogues, over a small sketch of one of my older daughter’s Schroth Method exercises; a wool, felted bullseye pin-cushion; and a lacquered, Russian, khokhloma cup that is home to all things long and thin (rulers, eraser brush, flags, pens, pencils, scissors).

The clutter would at other times feel oppressive — a reminder of so many things un-done and the persistent and ignored need to purge. But today my desk is better for the whole mess of it. All this flotsam and jetsam — so easily slid to the side — tells me that the current presses on, and I am so thankful to be easing back into it.


  1. I’m so glad you are back at your desk and your pile is inspiring! I have a very similar rock on my desk that inspired a Valentine’s poem to David a few years ago. I also have a packet of sunflower seeds. I started them indoors because last year the squirrels ate all my seedlings but seemed to leave the larger ones in pots alone. I especially like your Moomintroll.

  2. I have some fuzzy recollection of reading about that squirrel/sunflower snaffu… 🙂
    It was fun and revealing to catalogue everything on my desk that way.
    I went to hear Brian Flocca read a few weeks ago, to an audience of mostly MG-aged kids (he was right spot on in his presentation to that age — so good!), and in explaining why he sketches rather than just photographing he talked about how drawing forces us to see in ways that snapping a photograph completely bypasses.
    It occured to me yesterday that cataloging and sketching are close cousins in that sense.

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