Word Spaces (20): Terese Svoboda

by Guest Posts



I bought the $25 desk at a museum sale in California. The rolltop doesn’t function, one of the legs is coming off, and I have to pry the drawers open, but I like how the desk part slides a little forward. It makes me feel as if I always have secret extra space, the way our apartment includes a long frosted glass window with a light behind to suggest that there’s another room. The French doors open to the living room/dining room/everywhere else room. A Murphy bed fronted with bookshelves folds down beside the desk for optimum concentration. My office is essentially the bedroom. I don’t know what to say about that.


The drawers are full of dreary office supplies, postcards I can’t live without, vast quantities of clips stolen from various academic appointments. The snakey cord underneath will someday kill me. The chair is hard. My son made a pillow for it years ago but it’s in shreds. The standing files loom over me to remind me of work undone, but I never use them. Ditto the rolltop cubbies. The box on top of the desk is full of jewels. Well, they’re jewels to me.

The photograph at an angle is by Geoffrey Biddle who photographed my son and husband and I making faces. The painting behind the chair that you can barely see is by David Loeb. I had a crush on him at Yaddo one year between husbands and would hang around his studio. He finally used me as a model. I remember well the thrill of the sound of the brush running over the canvas—but in the painting I’m fully clothed, wearing a wool jacket, with my back to him. He gave me the painting years later, apologizing for missing all the signals.


Light is an issue. Never enough. Let that be on my epitaph.