Someone was tired of watering the plant that grew on top of this table, stuck in a corner with its waxy, green leaves thriving and vining all over sympathy cards for sale in German calligraphy, Blackletter.
Two women said please take the plant; we have too many. It was in a cracked plastic container, needed pruning and fresh potting soil, as evidenced by the rim of crusty lime. I think they wanted to put a poinsettia there instead.
The table sat, or stood, awkwardly bare. I asked, what about the table?
The two women said, please take that also. I suppose if tables could express gratitude, this one did in a quiet, cobwebbed way.
I can tell you the measurements: eleven and not quite a half inches, across the top. The edges are beveled, slightly scuffed on one corner, so the thickness is approximately one half inch. Enough room for a book or two, reading glasses and a cup of coffee.
The table is dark, intricately detailed, and stands seventeen inches from the floor. The legs are more like an interrupted pedestal, with careful carvings--triangles and sideways diamonds, circles within circles and the space of roundness. Four curved cut-out shapes, not keyholes or snowmen, but reminiscent of some sacred entryway.
The base of this sturdy table, from angled foot to foot, eleven and a half inches at the base, tapers upwards to seven inches below the table top. The other three sides each measure more or less seven, which leads me to believe this was not manufactured by a machine.
Turned upside-down, there still lives one harmless spider; the inside of the table base is smooth. Each corner has a symmetrically placed five inch triangular prism of wood, apparently glued some time ago. The underside of the table top has two four and a half inch rectangles of wood, one old large screw each, to secure the top.
What I know about this table is that someone, somewhere, took great pains to carve 96 tiny sideways diamond shapes on the top surface alone, position eight-pointed stars, bisected rhomboidal and repeating squares with crosses inside some squares. It is a language with no signature, a piece of art, unsigned.
For a few months, the table and the plant teetered on the brink of death in my mother's kitchen. When I moved back home, I left the plant and a few hopeful cuttings behind on a windowsill. The table didn't fit in with her downstairs style of modern furniture, so it is here.
A mystery that is not mahoghany, nor oak fretwork, not a British tea trolley, not an Ambella center table nor Cameroon side table. I could tell you so many tables it is not. Would that matter to you? Would you care at all in the grand scheme of things?
What I know about this table is that it is not from India, the USA or China. It is not teak or rosewood, nor antique shabby romantic, not even a torchiere from the Netherlands. I am pleased with this small table just as it is and that, right now, is more than enough.