The Archangels Assemble IKEA Furniture

by Phillip Watts Brown

Home, it seems, is a box
filled with other boxes:

table, bookcase, the lampshade too
is a paper cube of light.

All right angles unlike Eden
with its green and wild branches.

A vague wood scent rises
like a memory of trees,

particle boards laid out across
the floor where we kneel

as if in prayer to bless this chest
of drawers—let it be made whole,

let it last—step by step
until it is finished. More boxes.

Right now, they hold air
we’ll trade for storage.

Humans trade air for things:
keepsakes, language, entire lives.

In the hospital’s bright box
we hear them pray over

the body of one they love—
let it be made whole, let it last.

Even following the steps,
it doesn’t always work.

The body rests in a wooden box
inside a dug-out box of earth

they then shut as if closing
a drawer or a window.


Phillip Watts Brown received his MFA in poetry from Oregon State University. His work has appeared in several journals, including The Common, Ruminate, Spillway, Up the Stairs QuarterlyTahoma Literary Review, Orange Blossom Review, Longleaf Review, and Rust + Moth. He and his husband live in Utah, where he works as a graphic designer. He also serves as a poetry editor for the journal Halfway Down the Stairs.

Photo by Julia Kosolapova