Drew Perry


I decide to rectify the situation
by building a table, a big damn
kitchen table, the sort of table
where if you needed to spread out
some papers, your checkbook and bills,
or, say, pie ingredients, well then,
this would be the table for it.
This will be the sort of table
that would best suit an "Oh,
Honey, don't do that here.
Why don't you go in and work
at the kitchen table?" Possibilities.
A child, maybe, doing research
on the State of North Carolina:
State Bird, Cardinal; State Flower,
Dogwood. Population, major cities,
hog lagoons, all of these carefully
colored onto posterboard. Or perhaps
a husband slowly disassembling
the coffee maker, intent upon solving
the mystery of why the gadget
will come right on at six each morning,
just as it's programmed to do,
and make only plain piping hot
water. "I'm trying to get it
to make coffee." "Why don't you
use the kitchen table?"

So I spend the afternoon
in schematics, green penned lines
suggesting various engineering
triumphs, load-bearing legs
and tabletop supports at forty-fives
for stability. A seating, room enough
for one person and requisite plates
and knives and forks, is thirty-three
inches. Or thirty-four. No matter.
My table will seat eight comfortably,
or six with room around to spare,
or it will seat one parental watchdog
cum general contractor and one
child and her rising sugar cube
Wall of Jericho project. It will
seat two couples and one more glass
of that terrible wine, there's just
one more glass, no sense in pouring
it out. It will seat visitors, in-laws
and neighbors, though never
Jehovah's Witnesses, and it will
seat one and one steaming cup
of coffee one day after a long snow
as the minutes tick through
at their own paces and icicles
string down off the rooflines.
I decide to rectify the situation
and spend all afternoon sketching
and costing out and building
lists of materials needed and all of it
begins to take shape and it seems
for a moment very real there
laid out across the paper like that,
in side and top views, in measurements
and spans, running across the pages
in my careful green handwriting.


Last year I built a kitchen table out of $80 worth of stock 2 x 4s. It seems to work fine. It looks a lot like the drawings of what it was supposed to look like, with a few exceptions. I also now have a fully functional coffee maker. I sleep, it makes coffee. Very fancy. This is perhaps the crowning achievement of man, next to the table saw. The table itself is damn near level.