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A thousand chairs are like a thousand plateaus.
How elegant! How delicate! Not all as iconic

as Eames, the Egg, or the Wishbone. How strange,
mundane mass-produced disposable furniture

fills a million houses with its ancient dead fish eyes.
Where are those recherché chairs?

Why are we living with these replicas of dead fish?
These thousand chairs lying in books, in museums, in images!

But not in the rooms of every day.
Once I made a chair.

Styrofoam sheets wrapped around multi-shaped bodies
to find a good proportion—comfortable, sittable.

I built a model chair in Rhino. A skeleton ¼ inch in diameter,
with the drawings of plans, elevations, and sections.

I rang up eleven ironmen, only one of them
took my drawings and money.

His name was Ironman L.
The day I saw him,

12 steel tubes with a diameter of ¼ inch
lay on the concrete floor in his iron factory

Ironman L caressed and bent them
on a metal brake turning the straight tubes into curves

welded them together into the chair I designed—
skinny, graceful. Yet also mottled with creeping rust stains.

I ran to hug it, carried it back along the Schuylkill River
like two sacks of rice.

In the “spray room” I scrubbed it with sandpaper
hard like the Korean scrubbers scrub the backs

of the bathers with a scrub towel in a Jjimjilbang.
Bright white primer slicked the steel.

Creamy white paints, like fresh milk, sprinkled,
snowflaked onto the smooth skin of the back and legs.

Sheep yarns weaved across each other and the skeleton.
After three nights, a surface appeared like a new landscape.

Pom-pom balls attached to yarn, growing
like millions of dandelion seed-heads waving in a field.

Yarn hung from the pom-pom balls,
under the surface, like roots in spring.

Seeds of dandelions fly away,
sprout and grow again in another place.

The Growing Chair moves with me
from house to house, from place to place.

I carry it like two sacks of rice. It always stands
in the most important spot in my room.

I never sit on it.



Shuyi Yin is a PhD student in historic preservation at Columbia University, where she studies the relationship among politics, heritage, media, and memory. Inspired by poetry’s magic tapestry, Shuyi has a passion for reading and writing poetry.
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18 May 2020

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