Intimate Furniture: A Writer Wednesday Post

June 20th, 2012 | Posted by Irene in Essays

Intimate Furniture photo & all text © Irene O’Garden, 2012

To hear the spoken version, click Intimate Furniture


Spared the junk heap: a chest of drawers, a mirror and a lamp. Swaddled in plastic and cardboard, freighted cross-country to us at the request of my sensitive husband. Intimate furniture, this.

Chest with a delicate marquetry nosegay, lately relieved of my lonely sister’s glut of grim novelty outfits, she herself lately relieved of her loneliness, finally, now, at the memory home, where she sleeps in its matching nosegay bed, with the match to the crystal lamp.

Deeper in previous, chest, lamps and mirror: proud possessions of my namesake great aunt. The bureau: a home to her silk slips, society sweaters. Home to the pearls at the base of her goiter. Mirrored. Home of adornments and longing. Intimate furniture, this.

Sensing it now before purchase and lacquer: a cabinetmaker’s affair. Love of wood and of work spelled in matching veneers, glowing in torches of wood grain. Topped with the shapely frame he carved and bent, glue drying, til the day he slipped the glass in and beheld himself, maker of his own image.

One grieving day the bed and chest will reunite, the crystal lamps will find each other. The mirror gathers new faces in flashes, adjusting appearance, emotions. The chest receives the sift of peachy powder, the mustache clip, the sprouting gray. Intimate furniture. Every humble meaning, stored behind the glass, within the drawers, by the unconditional light of the crystal lamp.


Do you have a piece or two of intimate furniture?

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  • Lindao182821

    Intimate furniture–my mother’s wedding chest is now my grand children’s toy box when they come to visit. No better use for it, and I am sure that Mother would agree.

    • What an appropriate use for a wedding chest, Linda! It only continues to gather love and meaning, and playfulness!

  • Cass

    Beautiful photo. 

    • Thanks, Cass! It took me a little finagling to figure out how best to capture them–Hope your home is sweet these days–

  • Bhigley

    Loved your piece.  Really nice furniture, gives to us, and it needs us as well. It really is true that a pair made together, wants to be together, and they belong together.  There is a certain slow motion suspense, in wondering if they will ultimately find each other again.

    I am a wood/furniture guy and so was my father, and so was his father; The makers of.   A piece of furniture can grab me from across the room and suck me to it.  Wood in it alive and it’s “dead” state is so connected with people, memories of people, hands of people, shelter ….. Biologically, we need each other to breathe, and in a cemetery trees take us up, and are literally made of the same molecules that were once our bodies.  Amazing! 


    • Wow, thanks Brian, for your astonishing response. I’ve never looked at cemetery trees that way–what an ennobling thought!

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