The History of Furniture

Brian Chander Wiora

I rub honey on the faded brown couch in order to bring back
its extravagance, grease the tracks of drawers,
look out the window at the congested grass.

I never chose to be unwrapping
cheap polythene wrap from leather chairs,
unpacking typewriters from their black plastic sleeves.

I grew up immune to the ordinary, surrounded by a past
I was expected to sit on and memorize
the way it felt on my skin. We imported artifacts

from the origin story of my heritage—the bone china
my grandmother’s grandmother painted in New Delhi.
The drum from Dubai I was told never to play. I always wondered

what replaced these objects in the places they were from.
Where in Pakistan would the family rest their feet, now that their rug
is in our living room? It reminds me of when my grandfather was dying,

he told me that his brain felt like oil. And where he’s from,
the British stole oil, sold oil, made oil into something
to light the lamps in the stores, in the streets.