MAHOGANY: Heartwood By B.A. Sarvey

Week 5 Word: MAHOGANY
Word Count 500
by B.A. Sarvey

I began my life deep in a Brazilian forest. My toes clove into rich humus, feeding me, while I grew tall and straight and strong. My glossy leaves fed the very air, breathing in what they needed, breathing out what they did not. Then the men came. “A fine tree—tall and straight and strong.” I felt the sharp teeth of their saw bite into my heartwood.
After that, I had no toes, nor leaves, but my heart and my soul remained, through the slicing and planing. My grain was fine and even, my color rich. The furniture maker decided I could become an exquisite desk and chair for a fine lady. He took all of me. Some boards he made smaller, some he set aside—but even these he placed carefully near his workbench instead of in his shed where the mice sometimes gnaw away at such as myself. Under his gentle attentions, I became something else, yet remained myself. Eventually, having smoothed, fitted, glued, waxed, rubbed and rubbed some more, the wood worker said, “You are the finest piece I have ever made.” His warm hand caressed me one last time before lifting me and placing me into the rough hands of another. But my soul sensed that he hovered nearby until the rough hands had conveyed me elsewhere. And like the forest, the gentle furniture maker is imprinted on my heartwood.
I knew the fine lady had taken possession as soon as her smooth fingers tickled across my top, my jig-sawed sides, the seat and rungs of my chair. When she placed the brass key in the slot of my slanting front, and pulled, my flap swung smoothly. The carpenter had made sure nothing would stick. “Oh! Look at the special compartments for ink, pens, nibs, stationery. And here is one for my journal, just as I requested.” The sound she made when she spoke was like the breeze from the Brazilian forest. Cool and warm at the same time. Welcoming. My heartwood glowed and my soul was at home.
Like the speech of the wind and the other trees, human speech translates in my heart. I always seem to understand. The fine lady soon became “Mrs. Foster,” and sometimes, “Lydia.” Her weight on my chair was slight, her touch reverential. She spoke to me as though she knew I could translate her words into mahogany. Her sorrows and her joys I absorbed along with the beeswax, while she spun tales on paper. Gradually, her weight grew slighter, her touch trembling, regretful. Finally, she came no more. But she remains imprinted on my heartwood.
And I remain in the Foster homestead. After Lydia came Grace, then Bonnie. Each with a special use for me, each with sentimental affection, as though they could feel Lydia in my warm, auburn grain. Now, another Lydia sits here, penning her great-grandmother’s story, of which I am a part, talking to me, absorbing my soul, and making her way into my heartwood.

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