Sunday, August 7, 2011

Flicker of Inspiration: Red Wheelbarrow

*Post inspired by the the Lightning and the Lightning-bug Flicker of Inspiration prompt, "Red Wheelbarrow." And thanks, L&LB, for having me as the Writer of the Week!
For this week's prompt, I'd like you to be inspired by the poem below by William Carlos Williams. "The Red Wheelbarrow" has long been a poem that holds an air of mystery and intrigue for me. For it to be so few words, I feel it tells a complex tale with a lot hidden just below the surface. Take any word, image, or feeling evoked from "The Red Wheelbarrow" and turn it into your masterpiece. Oh, and like Williams, let's do things short and sweet. Write your piece in 300 or fewer words.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Yahoo Images
So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow glazed in rainwater beside the white chickens. Everything does, since water’s worth more than gold these days. But Mama told me it wasn't always like that, that water used to flow at the flip of a switch.

Two inches of rain rest within the wheelbarrow's walls, and Hank takes the first handful to his mouth, his fingers trembling with excitement and fatigue. Hank’s always first, since he’s the smallest. 

Rose rolls her eyes as she stands back, but I know she understands. He’s weak, even weaker than yesterday. 

We haven’t seen rain in too many months, and my mouth is dry. Sometimes it bleeds, but Mama’s is worse.

She stands back and watches the three of us, and her tongue grazes over her cracked lips. But she’ll let us drink first, let us wet our dry tongues and fill our bellies, and I tell myself to save her some when my turn comes.

Hank is laughing now, and water dribbles down his dirty chin, leaving tracks. We can’t help our laughter, too, even Rose. Even the three chickens cluck.

And I imagine what they would taste like, though Mama refuses to kill them because the chickens give us eggs.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t imagine.

We have to hide them when other stragglers come by. Most men, and even women, would kill for a live animal. Sometimes even a dead one.

After Rose gulps four handfuls, it’s my turn. I see rust flakes floating in the remains, but it doesn’t stop me, and after one handful, I back up so Mama can take her turn. My hands are still wet, so when she isn’t looking I’ll lick them.

But she scolds me with her eyes, narrow and fierce and loving. Charlene.

I ignore her at first, but her eyes continue to dig and her feet seem fastened to the ground. And as I bow my head and eagerly cup more, I know that even though everything depends on that red wheelbarrow glazed in rainwater for Hank, Rose, and I, it doesn’t for Mama.

For Mama everything depends on the life of her children. 


May said...

Oh, I love the ending!

Congrats on being the featured writer this week AND I see the Liebster post just before this one! Exciting stuff. Hope the two direct many more readers your way. You deserve for your writing to be read.

Dana Boyd said...

This is beautiful. Your words create great imagery. I really enjoyed it. You're a great writer.

This is my first time visiting and participating in a Flicker of Inspiration prompt. So glad to have found it...and you!

Jen said...

Jennie!!!!!!!! This was amazing!! The details, the love for her children! I LOVE of my favorites you've written.

Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy said...

Don't you hate when you have a comment all perfectly written out then your computer FAILS and loses it. Yep, that just happened. Anyway.

Great job, Jennie! I absolutely loved this. The descriptions were so real, so very vivid. I could almost feel the depth of their thirst, the dryness of their lips. Oh, and the voice of the piece was so amazing...I could hear your main character talking almost. Such a talented writer you are!

Thanks for being our writer of the week and for linking up this amazing piece. It's definitely one of my favorite responses to this week's prompt. :)

Slidecutter said...

This gave me such a beautiful and sad visual of what families went through in the 1930's during the drought called the Dust Bowl.

You did an amazing job with this prompt, Jennie!

lori said...

Holy cow, Jennie. I think this is one of my favorites from you. That first line and paragraph pulled me in, and I was hooked. Well done :)

Emily said...

Poor Mama! Oh, this was heart-wrenching! Powerful and sad -- are you going to write more?

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