The Empty Chair

Winner of the 2006 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award


Out on the rocky point there stands a white
And isolated Adirondack chair.
The tourists take a snapshot of the sight —
But only if nobody’s sitting there.

I guess they know, without fine arts degrees,
The standard first-term lesson, “less is more.”
It’s all about the possibilities
And the importance of the metaphor.

The focus isn’t on the lovely ring
Of blue in which the empty chair is framed —
Where ocean meets the sky — it’s on the thing
That in an artful picture can’t be named:

They save a central place for what might be —
A certain absence, looking out to sea.

Robert W. Crawford is Assistant Professor of Writing and Literature and the director of Information Technologies at Chester College in New Hampshire. His collection of poems is entitled Too Much Explanation Can Ruin a Man (Wordtech, 2005).

First published in Measure, Volume 2 (2007)