Portrait In Collection III

The Top of My Desk

. . . I had thought that if I called my desk an altar & treated it as a sacred or devoted space, the newly constructed aura would make writing easier, more comfortable.  I hastily invoked Virginia Woolf & St. Brigid of Kildare & tried to live in the idea of a woman needing space to do “her work.”  While I do love writing at my desk—spreading my journal across the wooden surface, filling the row of pigeonholes concealed within with small books of writing prompts, placing all of my fancy good pens in the small drawers—I still find myself away from it more often than at it.

Even spiritual needs have to be worked into a schedule, though the neglect to myself shows differently than, say, skipping a week of exercising or drinking too much one night.

On the top is arrayed my own small set of fetishes & charms, which I sometimes consider without opening the lid of the desk to do work.

At the far left, I have placed a bell, a book and a candle because yes, I believe in ghosts, muses & dreams.  The pewter bell numbered among the gifts from my husband on our first anniversary & is engraved with a claddagh.  The book is a Bible, King James Version, bound in pebbly black leatherette & cross-referenced with the Book of Mormon buried among my reference books.  The votive candle-holder is made of frosted glass with a small, dried dark red rose lacquered to it.

Beside this trio is a glass frame that has dried yellow and purple pansies pressed between the two panes that it is made of.  The picture is one of the children statues from Chatham Manor—a small girl looking over her shoulder, her arms pulled protectively over her chest, the grooves of her bangs deep white in the stone.  Behind the picture is a card of Isadora Duncan in a flowing brown dress, her arms frozen in the circle of a pirouette.

Moving again to the right, a card with Edgar Allan Poe’s face over a pair of fists tattooed N-E-V-R-M-O-R-E, which came from my best friend.  In front of the card is another small votive holder in the shape of a raven.  Poe is never far from me, especially since his name is permanently inked on my body.

In the center of the shelf, a small book of my photographs is propped behind an round clock.  The book is beige & blue, made of recycled paper.  The photographs include the local CD store which went out a few years ago, a black dog running in a cemetery, a quote from Matisse in a shop window, my little sister standing beside a scarred sycamore & the stems of a bright spring plant in dark rich earth.  The clock is gilded, decorated with rhinestone buds scattered amid brightly painted green vines.  The second hand ticks faithfully, firmly, reminding me the value of each second.

Taking up the rest of the shelf is my pharmacist’s lamp with its flexible brass neck.  From the neck hands a small set of grey glass chimes & two strands of green Mardi Gras beads.  On the base rests two more cards.  One is a hand-drawn person shouting encouragements, which my friend K. gave to me as I was applying to grad school.  The other is a framed thumbs up with the words, “That Thing You Are Writing Is Awesome!”

Yet despite these encouragements & calming symbols, sometimes the hardest thing is to bring myself to sit down & open the lid to start work.