My nightstand holds stacks of my best intentions.
As a piece of furniture it offers open space, a flat surface and contains no frills. Four pieces of wood that create a cube with two open sides, it’s highly practical and indifferent to chaos. The fact that its form is hardly visible elicits no hard feelings. Its function remains impeccable which I suppose is what counts.
Inside this open cube I have remnants of readings and artifacts that I have yet to sort and archive (as if this were a thing that I ever did). A cookbook my mother gave me in my early 20’s, 3-4 self-help books some for the physical, some for the emotional, at least one in German. There are 2 old envelopes of photographs. You know the kind you got from the drugstore processing distributor. Mostly pictures of my oldest son from his middle years, I think. Old journals, a few more books I started but didn’t quite finish. Dustcovers of books that I loved yet never replaced on their hardback originals. The assortment is messy but navigable.
On top there appear to be two stacks of books. The back row are a mix of favorites like Gathering Moss and Braiding Sweetgrass, both by Robin Wall Kimmerer which I couldn’t bear to put on a shelf plus a notebook or two thrown in. The front row are a combination of recent aspirational reads and books I’m in the middle of. There’s Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped From The Beginning, Sara Goldrick-Rab’s Paying The Price and Cathy Davidson’s The New Education. Zeynep Tufekci’s Twitter and Tear Gas is still waiting patiently to be opened.
Despite the relative chaos and unfinished business, I am at peace with my nightstand. I always have something to read. When And Where I Enter by Paula Giddings happens to be on top and I just returned poetry by Natalie Diaz, When My Brother Was An Aztec, to its owner. Somewhere in that jumble of pages there’s a copy of my own small book of poetry, Die Sprachbuergerschaft.
In a year of two, the combination will shift and be reconfigured. The nightstand will remain stuffed and covered and always entirely necessary.