An oak roll-top with locking lever
to keep out snoops,
antique with a brass plate,
George H. Fuller in San Francisco–
four drawers on the left, three on the right
cubbyholes for envelopes, stamps, paper clips,
upstairs in your Chenery Street apartment,
a Rainbow Grocery of good taste
where for lunch, you fed me
black olives and chunks of salty feta,
cheese and crackers, wine.
I met your lovers—
Tommy who liked funerals and flea markets,
and Len standing in the five o’clock shadow
of your dreamboat Warren.
But after you died from HIV
Len was the one
who emptied your desk,
lemon-oiled the oak,
moved it to the safety of a house
in the upper Mission
where he cooked pasta
and gave me poems by Akhmatova,
talked about interviews
with Sylvia Plath’s mother,
before he hung himself in the garage.
Then there was the desk.
That beautiful desk with inset panels,
dovetail joints and carved pulls,
stranded amid boxes and crates, disassembled
in the back of a pickup
and delivered to my condo,
my Strega Nona serving
stories and poems—
each time I open a draw, there’s
a yellow post-it reminding me
sometimes you can’t find what you need,
someone must take you there.
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