Skip to main content

February 15, 2023

The Green Sled

To her
it all depends on
the bright green sled
staying tethered to her
small mittened hand, clutched
behind her red coat.

Head down, determined,
her black boots footprint
rapidly falling blue-white snow
as she inches forward
on the icy path
to home.

One of my favorite poems is William Carlos Williams’, The Red Wheelbarrow, which describes a simple scene with expertly crafted lines and stanzas. Much has been written about Williams’ prominence in American poetry. I marvel at his skill in depicting beautiful images of simple objects from daily life using carefully chosen plain words. In,The Red Wheelbarrow, a red utilitarian object takes center stage in a bucolic scene with ordinary white chickens.

In four stanzas of two lines, a total of four words in each stanza, Williams shares an unforgettable scene that is enough in itself but when considered thoughtfully leaves the reader with unanswered questions. Some of my questions are: Has the rain that “glazes” the wheelbarrow stopped? Are the chickens caged or uncaged, feeding or roosting? Who uses the wheelbarrow and feeds the chickens? Is the day’s work over or will it resume after the rain? The backstory of this poem is described in many sources and so I leave that to you to discover if you so choose.

I painted, The Green Sled, awhile back but was never satisfied with the result. The simplicity of the scene reminds me of how I visualize the uncomplicated place described in, The Red Wheelbarrow. So, in addition to painting a new version of, The Green Sled (over the old version), I decided to write a poem about this scene in a simple but intentional style. I arranged words deliberately to create stanzas that are upside down versions of one another. As always, I want my poem and my painting to stand alone while being able to enhance one another when taken together.

The backstory of my painting and poem is very straightforward. My granddaughter was off from school for a snow day, so her dad took her sledding in a field near where they lived. I was not with them but her dad took some pictures which he shared with me. Knowing my granddaughter, I imagined that even with clothes encrusted with snow and ice, and sledding in snow that fell more rapidly and thickly as time ticked by, she would take her time and not surrender her day as long as she was in charge of the “bright green sled”.