Through the Knothole

Her elbow rested here
a century ago.
This is the field

she looked upon,
a mad rush of wheat
anchored to the barn.

What her thoughts were,
the words she penned
are driven into the grain,

its deep tide crossing
under my hand. She breathes
through the knothole.

Outside, the wind
pushes the farm
down an ally of stars.
~Wyatt Townley, “The Oak Desk” from The Afterlives of Trees

J.R.Tolkien’s writing desk at the Wade Center at Wheaton College

A writing desk is simply a repurposed tree; the smoothly sanded surface of swirling grain and knotholes nourish words and stories rather than leaves and fruit.

I can easily lose myself in the wood, whether it is as I sit at a window composing, or whether I’m outside walking among the trees which are merely potential writing desks in the raw.

Museums often feature the writing desks of the famous and I’ve seen many over the years – it is thrilling to be able touch the wood they touched as they wrote – gaze at the same grain patterns they saw as the words gelled, and feel the worn spots where elbows rested.

Though my little desk won’t ever become a museum piece, nor will my words ever be famous, I am grateful for the tree that gave me this place to sit each morning, breathing deeply, and praying that I will share worthy fruit.

5 thoughts on “Through the Knothole

  1. Our dining room table is the first piece of furniture that my grandparents bought 2nd hand when they first married in 1927. I love the idea of eating on the same table where my grandparents ate dinner as newlyweds, where my grandmother rolled her pie crusts, where my mother sat eating a biscuit when she came home from school, where farmhands ate their noonday meal at harvest time, where as a child my family ate dinner every night, and now where our children & grandchildren gather, our elbows resting in the same spots where so many others long gone rested theirs. Old things handed down have a personal history, a patina of shared experience that goes beyond mere function.

    Thank you for your beautiful reflections.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Same here, Gale.
    I love wood. My favorite hobby is to work on a piece of aged
    furniture that I find occasionally at Salvation Army and other
    thrift shops. It, too, has its cherished memories and needs to be
    restored and returned to a second (or) third life.

    Once cleaned, lightly sanded a little,
    and an appropriate stain applied (if necessary), finished, ready for its 2nd or 3rd
    new life, by adding a
    clear coat to protect from future dings and stains. Care and future use
    will bring a new patina – a second life to treasure for another future
    generation’s memories.
    Wood’s various grains, knotholes, and even scent, tell a story.
    That, alone, is one of the things that plastic can never do…..

    And we must not forget the love, forgiveness, and salvation selflessly given
    to us by our innocent Savior’s ‘gift of Eternal Life with Him millennia ago by way
    of the bloody, pain-filled Cross..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You suggest, dear Emily, that your words will never be ‘famous.’ Not so!
    Perhaps they may not appear in impressive bound anthologies or be
    spoken from noted speakers’ platforms – or be lauded in the way that the ‘world’ measures its criteria for
    ‘famous.’ But the Lord for whom you speak and spread His message as we all are
    instructed to do, will recognize what is ‘famous’ and to whose
    consistent efforts apply as they reach out to ‘share His Good News that He spent His entire
    brief earthly existence doing in response to the will of His Loving Father.

    Your ‘words’ appearing every day on a printed page and sent into cyberspace are your ‘weapons,’ (as well as your ‘warnings’) to give us hope and steadiness as they remind and encourage us through His Word that serves to shield us from a God-less world that seems to go berserk, erupting in hatred, disobedience, and madness much too often..
    As just one of your thousands of blog subscribers I am grateful and blessed that you continue in your devoted discipleship.

    Liked by 1 person

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