If you look closely,
you can see the marks of the chisel.
From the least distance, you cannot.
It is nearly perfect,
though age has added new marks.
It is has been heavily used, this desk,
nearly three hundred years of use,
every day, the patina growing richer every day,
until now it lives here in the museum,
more art than desk, the patina rich,
but no longer growing richer, no longer in use,
frozen in time. Beautiful, but no longer
a living thing.
About this poem.
The picture was taken at the Clark Museum, where they have a gallery of 17th and 18th-century furniture. All of it glorious.
I love antiques. Our house is full of them. But for me, an antique has no value if you can’t use them. If you can’t sit on the chair, work on the desk, put clothes in the drawers.
Museums would disagree.