Winter Still Life with Red Shovel


Not the Grand Canyon, 

not Niagara Falls;

merely the snowy deck and roof

of a neighbor’s house, a still life framed

by my dining room window,

sun-painted tree shadows lacing

the whole in intricate, abstract patterns;

steps inviting me to walk

into the picture, to sit a spell

at the empty table, to consider

that idle shovel in the corner,

bright red reminder that, though there is so much

work to be done, work to salvage justice,

work to honor truth, work to love the neighbor,

sometimes it is good to set aside our shovels

for a time, simply rest, renew, re-ground

our lives in simple still-life splendors

that abound in unexpected

corners of our lives.    

6 thoughts on “Winter Still Life with Red Shovel

  1. This poem casts a spell about sitting for a spell. First of all, not many folks would look out a dining room window and see an idle shovel as a “bright red reminder” of work left to be done that has nothing to do with the snow covering the deck. But the poem doesn’t top there or perhaps it does stop there by giving us permission to “set aside our shovels for a time.”

    I was reminded of William Carlos Williams poem, “The Red Wheelbarrow”:

    so much depends

    a red wheel

    glazed with rain

    beside the white
    This poem can be interpreted in many ways, none of them wrong I would suspect. After reading “Winter Still Life with Red Shovel,” I would say that so much depends on that red shovel. You had told me a bit about this image, but I had no idea the splendor that awaited me in this unexpected corner of my life when I read the poem inspired by the image. Thanks for the gift of inviting me to walk into the picture.

  2. Thanx, Sharonino, for walking into the picture with me. I think we are both pondering all that depends on that red shovel, all that depends on the work that shovel needs to do, all that depends on our grounding and renewing ourselves to be better able to participate in that work. Love the William Carlos Williams poem–thanx for that too.

  3. Nice….and so true. I like that we have both been able to see that kind of undramatic but significant beauty in our sometimes diminished worlds.

    Struggled last night in my own mind with someone at book group who maybe hasn’t learned to look at such views. Her husband had a bad accident resulting in three broken bones. I am truly sorry and understand the ramifications for both of them better than most. BUT he is in his 50s and it has been one month. She is a travel writer and very quickly moved from his discomfort to her own at being confined by someone, someone who is getting himself to the bathroom and is mentally astute. A month, Carol! With an end in sight! I just sat there. But my mind was boiling with our past years and counting. Not kind thoughts and feelings so I spent the evening pretty annoyed at both her and me.

    Thanks for sharing your photos and writings….and for listening to my rant.


    Sent from my iPad


  4. Yes, I, too, am grateful for a friend who celebrates the “undramatic but significant” beauty in our diminished worlds. And I so understand and can relate to your “rant”! I, too, become impatient with those whose lives may be “temporarily” shackled but who seem to lose perspective about themselves and about others who live with “stuff” that is not “temporary.” Probably have done the same thing myself in earlier days. Sigh.

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