I'm quite fond of my new desk. It's in the bedroom between two windows (more on the view later) and it's one of those folding tables people rent for events. I bought it from Amazon for something like $39.00 and what's great about it is the size--about six feet long, some kind of pebbly grey-ishwhite plastic surface on grey metal legs. At one end there's a computer screen my son salvaged for me. I use it when I'm proofreading a book manuscript: I can have my original translation text on one screen and the copy-edited manuscript on my laptop. Or vice versa. But right now the extra screen has two postcards taped to it: a Chardin still life I am particularly fond of from the Louvre, and a Cezanne postcard I also like (of his wife, full frontal, sitting in a chair). And also a sheet of paper with Goya's 'Third of May 1808'. Quite a different kettle of fish, Goya, as compared with Chardin or Cezanne. I like to think about how they can be so different and so great.

In front of the screen there is a pile of books, never mind which, then a goose-neck lamp from Ikea that looks like a mike, a tangle of cables, a two-volume Webster's Universal Dictionary of the English Language (A-LITH and LITHISTIDA-ZYX) from 1937. I took it from my parents some years ago. It is leather bound, in red and an orangey-yellow, with a lot of Moorish-looking tooling. The pages are yellow and have a good old-book smell. It's not pristine, it looks as if it had been used. Occasionally it's useful for some historical research, but otherwise I mostly use my computer's dictionary. In Paris I have an OED compact, but that's another story. The dictionaries are propping up the ten or so books I need for book reviews that haven't yet appeared in print, and a bunch of Poetry Book Society bulletins that I keep there because I haven't really figured out where else to keep them and I'm afraid I might forget where I put them otherwise. Then there are some file folders in which I try to keep the disorder of my correspondence, bills, charity solicitations, at bay, and then a printer, which is out of ink at the moment.

That's the back layer. The front layer: printer paper, both fresh and already-printed-on-one-side. A stapler. A letter from a French organisation telling me they received my change-of-address in the Etats-Unis-d'Amerique. A glasses case without any glasses but with a soft cloth for keeping them clean. A cup with pens and pencils and a pair of scissors with yellow handles. More cables. A place for my laptop, which is on my lap.