The Cherry Wardrobe

Built to last, its vertical lines are plumb.
The only ornamentation, a simple
crown moulding, the inward curve
of the cavetto. Four drawers that grow deeper
in descending order. Above them a pair
of doors — rails, stiles, inset panels —
the cedar-lined interior. A space
I could not resist that day, the wardrobe still
in my husband’s shop, unfinished.
He had planed the case by hand. Ribbons
of cherry wood curled at his feet.
I want to climb inside, I said. Be my guest, 
he said. I hoisted myself up, tucked
myself in. Dark inside. It smelled like him,
the familiar scent he wore — wood dust,
resin. I could touch with my fingertips raw
wood, hidden joinery. I could hear him humming,
tapping the chisel with his wooden mallet. I could
hear the world beyond us, too, muffled sounds
of people passing in the alley. I sat in the darkness,
listening. We were happy that year, the doctors
cautiously optimistic. Inside the wardrobe, a child’s game —
I could be lost, I could be found, I knew that when
I pushed open the doors, daylight would come streaming.

—From “Seaworthy,” @ 2018 River Rock Books

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