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"Iceland" & "The Repurposing of a Three-Legged Chair"

By Nathaniel Lachenmeyer

Nathaniel Lachenmeyer is an award-winning disabled author of books for children and adults. His first book, The Outsider, which takes as its subject his late father's struggles with schizophrenia and homelessness, was published by Broadway Books. His most recent book, an all-ages graphic novel called The Singing Rock & Other Brand-New Fairy Tales, was published by First Second/Macmillan. He has forthcoming/recently published poems and stories with Permafrost, Berkeley Poetry Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, The New York Quarterly, Full Bleed, and DIAGRAM. His short story The Soloist’s Rehearsal was nominated for a Pushcart in December. Nathaniel lives outside Atlanta with his family.



If memory serves, and it doesn’t always, I met you when I was 14 during a stopover on the way to London to see family separated by the war. The honor was entirely mine. I have forgotten many things, some by accident, some by choice, but I have never forgotten your black-edge glaciers and your living volcanoes. There was in your desolate broken beauty an aloneness I hungered desperately after, finally found in my 20s, and then gave up willingly for wife and children. If I can scrape together the time, one day I will return with them, and, while we tour your glaciers, bore them with glossed-over tales of a childhood now lost. Then, ankles permitting, I will strike out on my own just long enough to sharpen the vision my eyes’ host found when I first met you on my way to London, where I saw family separated by the war. I remember sometime soon after we landed, my cousin, 15, jumped his father in their living room in front of us. It was a marring war for those who survived.

The Repurposing of a Three-Legged Chair


Four small hands struggle to hold it upright. One imagines their teacher sitting in it; the other, their family dog, because it is funny and it takes the ache out of thin arms. Now, they let it drop (not too loudly) to the floor. Young voices discuss. They could make a new leg and attach it somehow. But how? And would it stay? And if it didn’t—poor teacher, poor dog. No, the legs must come off. Two of the legs will be drum sticks for music class. The third? They agree: a scepter in the school play (covered with color paper, of course). All that’s left is the rounded seat and back, that horrible, enormous piece of beige plastic. A hat, they joke, taking turns trying to wear it and keep it from falling. A chair for grownups, so children stuck sitting behind them can see. A sled for when it snows. They can’t decide and the bell is about to ring. But they aren’t worried. They know one thing: they will not send it to the landfill for five hundred years. They have four hands and imagination; they will figure it out tomorrow.

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