The Chairs That No One Sits In
by Billy Collins
You see them on porches and on lawns
down by the lakeside,
usually arranged in pairs implying a couple
who might sit there and look out
at the water or the big shade trees.
The trouble is you never see anyone
sitting in these forlorn chairs
though at one time it must have seemed
a good place to stop and do nothing for a while.
Sometimes there is a little table
between the chairs where no one
is resting a glass or placing a book facedown.
It might be none of my business,
but it might be a good idea one day
for everyone who placed those vacant chairs
on a veranda or a dock to sit down in them
for the sake of remembering
whatever it was they thought deserved
to be viewed from two chairs
side by side with a table in between.
The clouds are high and massive that day.
The woman looks up from her book.
The man takes a sip of his drink.
Then there is nothing but the sound of their looking,
the lapping of lake water, and a call of one bird
then another, cries of joy or warning—
it passes the time to wonder which.
[from the November 2008 issue of Poetry]