Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday's Reflection: The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white 

I wonder if this poem written in 1923 is still studied in high school English classes. Maybe its simplicity of language and image aren't viewed as remarkable today as it once was, but I do hope young poets continue to wonder what depends on a red wheelbarrow. 

On the sidewalk in front of our house I see a red wheelbarrow. A child's wheelbarrow.  Slung over the top is a jacket, which is now wet, because it rained for a few minutes this morning. I am sure it belongs to one of the children a few doors away and in the flurry of coming in for baths and bedtime routine it was forgotten. I suspect that is a busy household, scattered with every manner of kid gear. 

Yesterday as I sat at my desk in the afternoon I could hear through my open window a young child crying, an angry cry, a cry of defiance, an expression of "No, I won't." Perhaps that's when the child was carried kicking and screaming back to her house and the wheelbarrow was left behind and poor Mom or poor Dad gave no more thought to it. 

Sometimes, instead of the wheelbarrow, a pink trike is left behind. Or I may find chalk art drawings--a smiling face, a dog, squiggles and swirls. I love this evidence of young life. 

I suppose I could return the wheelbarrow to its home, but I would prefer to see one of those children come to retrieve it. I could smile and wave from our window or if I am outside we might have a little chat. I would like that.

When I was in elementary school, I was afraid of one of our neighbors, George Olson. He had a perfectly groomed corner yard with a white fence around it. Unfortunately, it was not tall enough or solid enough to prevent a softball from landing in his yard by mistake. We kids would be so scared every time we had to hop the fence and retrieve a ball. I don't know for a fact that he would have been upset, but we thought he would be. He was not only tall and imposing looking, but in my mind he also seemed quite old. A figure not to be reckoned with. 

I prefer not to be a "Georgette" on our block, but instead I hope the children on our block feel safe and secure as they run and play and yes, leave red wheelbarrows. That is my wish for all children, even though I know so many face dangers in their own homes, let alone in the world around them. 

Another poem. This one by Mary Oliver, "I Happened To Be Standing" in A Thousand Mornings.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Oliver

          I don't know where prayers go,
                 or what they do.
          Do cats pray, while they sleep
                 half-asleep in the sun?
          Does the opossum pray as it
                 crosses the street?
           The sunflowers? The old black oak
                 growing older every year?
            I know I can walk through the world,
                 along the shore or under the trees,
            with my mind filled with things
                 of little importance, in full
            self-attendance. A condition I can't really
                 call being alive.
            Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
                 or does it matter?
            The sunflowers blaze, maybe that's their way.
            Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.

            While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
             just outside my door, with my notebook open,
             which is the way I begin every morning.
             Then a wren in the privet began to sing. 

             He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
             I don't know why. And yet, why not.
             I wouldn't persuade you from whatever you believe
             or whatever you don't. That's your business.
             But I thought, of the wren's singing, what could this be
                   if it isn't prayer?
             So I just listened, my pen in the air.

And I just gazed at the red wheelbarrow. For so much depends on it. 

An Invitation
What do you see as you look out your front window? Or what do you hear as you stand in your doorway? What prayer is lifted from you as you look, as you listen? I would love to know. 


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