The Secret Lives of Pool Tables
When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes…
When I was just a slab of wood, I had hoped to go into the ministry. An altar, perhaps a pulpit. A better place I would’ve made then for one woman who walked into the bar. She leaned against me provocatively as so many others before her while her newest purpose in life and Levi’s waltzed away to get another drink. She opened her purse, presumably for a handheld mirror, and noticed the forgotten baby’s bottle inside. She’d looked around for a place to dispose of it before her comatose conscience aroused itself and, instead, pushed it down into my laced-leather pocket, grabbing his arm in deference to the dance floor. Bourbon lapped from his glass and onto my felt green shores as they two-stepped away.
I all alone beweep my outcast state…
A pew. That would’ve been nice. A pew to comfort the next one putting quarters into my slot for a solo game. She was plain despite her efforts at adornment. As she made the first shot, she noticed the ball peeking above the green instead of sinking deeply down. She placed her hand inside to find the baby’s bottle. She gripped it like a promise until her knuckles went white and, while no one was looking, slipped it into her own purse. One woman’s junk… is another’s one desire. She walked curiously around me, reaching into my other pockets to see what she might find. A man? A wedding ring? I willed a signal of warning to her to get out, that this wasn’t the place for purity and innocence. I don’t know if she sensed it or not, but her next shot missed entirely. White ball in the corner pocket. Embarrassed, she walked out of the exit door alone.
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries…
I had seen them come and go. They came expectant. They left dazed, uncoordinated, and worse off than when they arrived. I had grown to despise the puff of blue chalk emitted by the cue stick’s impact, a phenomenon only I could see—a sepulcher opening itself to a blue demon, a destructive blue flame ignited. I hated the way they haughtily pretended to know my secrets – force, acceleration, Newton’s Third Law of Motion—until they missed a shot. Then they’d throw down their sticks in drunken anger like they’d thrown down their own lives. My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me? Am I not a created thing? Do I not belong to you?
And look upon myself and curse my fate…
You have to watch the light. The way it makes irregular rectangles on the cue ball and its target. You shoot where the light is on the cue in relation to the target. And then you ignore what you desire most. You don’t look at the ball you want to bank. That’s the secret.
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, Jesus…
I know of wood that the Savior was pierced upon. How it believed itself cursed when it was, in fact, blessed. All of his life, he worked as a carpenter and yet, I do not know of one thing he made. Not a house or a hutch of his handiwork received fame or celebration. Surround me when life and purpose confound me, oh God! For you will comfort me, my wilderness will be Eden, my desert, like Your garden! Joy and gladness shall be found in me. Thanksgiving and the voice of melody!
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings…
I was moved to the back room recently. No one trusted my worn surface or leaned against my chipped edges in their diminutive finery. Business just wasn’t what it used to be and I’d like to think my connection to The Maker had a hand in releasing a bit of his Spirit into the dark, desperate atmosphere. A deliveryman with a penchant for refinishing noticed me on his route. He asked the owner how much, and I’m proud to know how little of the world’s currency I translate into. He saw a demonstration on a home improvement show where a creative woodworker had turned an old pool table into a dining room masterpiece. It is seven months to Thanksgiving and there’s plenty of work to do to prepare me for the family.
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