For the Love of a Chair

 

“A chair
has waited
such a long time
to be with
its person.

Through shadow
and fly buzz
and the floating dust
it has waited
such a long time
to be with
its person.

What it remembers
of the forest
it forgets,
and dreams
of a room
where it
waits —

of the cup
and
the ceiling —

of the
Animate One.”

 

 

The closest many of us will ever come to a genuinely intimate relationship is that we share with a chair, particularly a long favored chair, like this gaily stripped bergère. A bergère is an enclosed upholstered French armchair, (fauteuil) with back and armrests supported on an upholstered frame. While the seat frame is over-upholstered, the rest of the wooden framing is exposed.

A bergère may be molded or carved, beech painted, or gilded, made of fruitwood, walnut or mahogany with a waxed finish. It may include padded elbow rests perched atop the armrests. It is fitted with a loose, but tailored, seat cushion and designed for lounging in comfort, with a deeper wider seat than that of a regular fauteuil (armchair), although more formal models of the bergère are available as well. In the White House for example.

In the eighteenth century, a bergère was essentially what is known as a meuble courant, which literally translates to a current piece of furniture. Current, because it was designed to be moved about to suit convenience, rather than being ranged permanently or formally along the walls as part of the decor.

 

Hence,
one might say,
the bergère
is the most
attentive of suitors,
extending its arms,
legs
and soft cushion
to catch you,
hold you,
embrace you,
and in the
memorable
words
of more
than one
love song,

“never let you go.”

 

Who could resist its warmth, whimsy and happily stripped countenance that smiles from whichever corner it graces? Like the friend who accompanies you to a party reminding you you’re not alone in a room of strangers, the silent, sturdy and reliably devoted bergère is your private accomplice, your most trusted confidante, the one true plush pal that will never drop you, disappoint you or let you down. The fold of its strong, unyielding arms never wavers, equivocates or shuns the simplest of life’s surprises: a post-party collapse, a vexing decision, a defeated slump, a quiet cry, a stunned silence, or the blissful fog of sleep.

Each day it greets you with the gentlest of nudges, the softest of caresses, and each night, in grateful commendation, it gathers you into its protective arms to soothe, shelter and calm, reminding you once more, lest you forget, of its fealty, faithfulness, and unapologetic love.

 

Photos: (Top) Getty images; (Bottom) le style
Excerpt (Top): “A Chair” by Russell Edson, The Very Thing that Happens

 

 

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~ by eaesthete on 08/05/10.

9 Responses to “For the Love of a Chair”

  1. What a lovely expression of the attributes of the bergere – one thinks of sinking into down filled cushions with a favorite book. Pristine elegance yet again.

  2. No better post. You captured it all.

  3. You always delight with your posts. This is interesting as all get out.

  4. Pure poetry. Thoughtful, nuanced, incandescent. Like all you do. You’re in a class by yourself EA.

  5. I am wallowing in these words!

    • Eric,

      “A class by myself?” Perhaps. Although many might call the category: the odd and unusual.

       

      Pamela,

      I can think of no higher compliment.

  6. Ah, so if I had any doubts – now I am sure you are a kindred crackpot. I’m emerging slowly from vacances mode and will have more to contribute to the subject, our shared passion for chairs.

  7. an old broken in bathrobe comes closest for me -

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