Red Wheelbarrow Moments – From Temple Bells and Ginger Flowers to a Paling Fence


The Red Wheelbarrow
so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white
– William Carlos Williams


I absolutely love this poem by William Carlos Williams. He is my favourite modern poet.

In The Red Wheelbarrow, Williams presents a tiny scene which unfolds in brief two line fragments. It simply depicts a wheelbarrow next to some chickens.

But it is a red wheel barrow and the chickens are white and the wheelbarrow is glazed with rainwater. If we remove any one of these minute details from the picture the moment vanishes – it is gone. So much depends on a red wheel barrow because this snapshot would be completely different if the wheelbarrow was green or black or yellow and completely different again if the chickens were orange or brown and if there was no sheen of rainwater.

These seemingly insignificant details stitched into the fabric of our ordinary lives are what matter. The haiku poets knew this. Basho places as much importance on a worm burrowing into a chestnut as on the moon that illuminates that almost invisible moment.
Autumn moonlight
a worm digs silently
into a chestnut
Our lives are made up of these little moments which are extraordinary in their ordinariness.


So every now and then I’ll post a jumble of my Red Wheelbarrow moments in words and pictures and you can reflect on the ones in your day or week or month or year.

My Red Wheelbarrow moments are:

a  sunshiny swathe of leaves heralding autumn

the golden fragrance of biscuits fresh from the oven

temple bell and ginger flowers bringing a breath of Bali to our Canberra courtyard

French coffee cups and butter container in gorgeous colours from my younger daughter for my birthday

ducks  feeding on the grass near our apartment

the paddle pop stick beauty of a weathered paling fence in Marrickville on the street where our grandson Louis lives with his parents

© Anita Patel, 2015

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