The Red Wheelbarrow by Martha Deed

The Red Wheelbarrow

The old woman on Sweeney Street is shoveling loose soil from a backfilled trench snaking across her yard from the street to a wall of her house that has a white and blue sticker on it. The covered trench covers a spanking new gas line to a future gas furnace, because the 200 gallon oil tank in her basement is past its useful life. She does not wish a new tank that would outlive her and the old oil furnace which probably won’t. The woman is shoveling dirt from the trench to a red wheelbarrow that carries a tag “For Sale $15” which she tied to the barrow when she decided she was too old to use it anymore. But then, a room had to be lifted to replace the failed foundation underneath and her driveway cracked and rose to break a snowplow’s steel blade ‒ This is Buffalo ‒ and so she is using the red wheelbarrow but is leaving the tag in place just in case. She wheels the dirt to the rear of the house near the new foundation where her established raised gardens were scraped bare for new concrete, and she dumps the soil ‒ just so ‒ among rocks strewn under the windows ‒ the rocks once forming a wall ­‒ now tossed across and under the spread earth. Winter is coming. There are no bulbs for Fall planting. The barren rock garden will wait for Spring.

An old house preserved
stripped, restored ‒ an old woman
plans Spring gardens ‒ hopes

by Martha Deed

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Editor’s Note: This haibun offers the reader a glimpse into the inevitable disintegration of our space (personal, external, etc.) while also illustrating the persistence of hope.


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