The grain swells. Since 1902. The oak fills the room, and the objects fill his vision, and his vision nearly pours out of the sockets of his eyes. Spit fills his mouth. He has purchased two chairs. He has put them in this room, his work room. They sit before him, asking.
A rope thick-bristled and raw as an arm half in his hand, half coiled on the floor. His own arm twitching in the faintest pulse imaginable before he moves.
Their backs face one another. Two arcs doubling. The wood curving in that impossible way that wood does. The velvet of the red seats sanguine beyond dried blood. Personless familiars. They sit dead in the way that chairs move us.
With the slowness of breath he laces the rope through the back arc of one, then the other. With the carefulness of a carpenter he swings his arm forward, back, forward, looking skyward; faith. With the skill of a man in the middle of his life he pitches the rope up and up and of course around a metal pipe jutting like pipes do from the ceiling. He has calculated the action in his mind. He has seen each second laying itself bare as if in an architectural diagram. He has considered every moment in excruciating detail. His hands are dirty. His fingernails lined with black. Splinters sting each palm without his notice. The rope hovers like an idea suspended like ideas do for a long second, then over the pipe, then drops back down to him as if he perfectly asked.
To lift the chairs. To watch them kiss themselves and knock wood against wood in a sound he has never heard before in his entire life, nor will. To witness their rising. Together. Forever like that. Tilted in against one another like some strange new species. Leaning taught like muscles or clenched teeth. The one against the other. Nearly unbearable.
Hand over hand and the biceps pulling like biceps do. His eyes lifted. Blue. His mouth open slightly. His lips wetted. His tongue against his front teeth barely like that. The chords in his neck straining but with ease. His jaw present. Their weight is not heavy. Simply weighted in the most remarkable way.
He has taken such care. Against the white wall, after the first day he saw them, before he spoke to the shop-keeper, moments after speaking to his wife (had he forgotten? Had he lost himself into a longing unnamable, some ache reaching for light? Her voice so familiar he no longer recognizes it, her thoughts dull as wood, her responses known to him like the back of his hand, repeating endlessly?) he has mounted a metal prong. When the chairs reach the ceiling (no, not the ceiling. Just under it. Like a word sent out to a listener doesn't meet them but comes as near as is possible to their own mouth), he pulls the rope toward the metal prong and laces it once, twice, three times, then drops the length of it to the floor. The rope thuds like a heart.
There will be no knot, no certain stability. Their will be only this rope holding. He will work directly beneath them time and again. There will always remain the chance that they will fall, together like that, back to back, palm to palm, psalmed, there will always remain his not knowing, his longing, his wonder lifting.