Variation on a Theme by William Carlos Williams

“The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams


So much depends



a red wheel



glazed with rain



beside the white



William Carlos Williams, physician by day . . . (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Literary critic John Hollander writes, “Williams ‘etymologizes’ his compounds into their prior phenomena, and his verbal act represents, and makes the reader carry out, a meditative one.”

In other words, meditative phenomena. Shamatha. Breathe. Receive.


So much depends . . .

Kathy, Elena, and Cole drive seven hours to Virginia for a baby shower. They also visit Polyface Farms, where Joel Salatin and family love creation, collaborate with it. Elena sits on a swing and nurses Cole. She’s not ashamed. Kathy brings home a pound of bacon from a pig joyful until its last moment. Salt and earth. We taste the earth.


A friend showed me . . . (Credit: H Zell / Wikimedia Commons)

For Sunday family dinner, we have purple potato salad and wraps: real, northwestern Pennsylvania tomatoes; avocado; feta; dill sauce; red bell pepper; chicken thighs sautéed in ground coriander seeds.

(I once saw coriander in Mary’s mortar. That’s why I thought to buy coriander, grind it, and put it with the chicken. My friend showed me.)


I’m busy, Gramps . . .

Before Sunday family dinner, Cole works in his playhouse in the backyard. He pounds with his hammer. He examines plastic nails and a sink and makes comments about them into the perfect air. Suddenly I realize / That if I stepped out of my body I would break / Into blossom (James Wright).


Matt and Layla

Before Sunday family dinner, Elena says, “We were going to plant flowers beside the house, but Matt says he wants to keep that space open. Layla likes to run there.”


Boulevard altos . . .

This morning, breezes lift the bedroom curtains. Kathy and I lay together, my arm around her shoulder, her head on my chest. We say nothing, listen to the trees, receive Earth’s cool hymnody on our faces and arms.

Finally: “I love you, Kathy Coleman.”

And: “I love you, too, John Coleman.”

Strange: we call each other by our full names.


7 thoughts on “Variation on a Theme by William Carlos Williams

  1. ….beautiful mama sitting there with her heavenly baby boy! Your fam!
    And, I’ll have you know I harvested our coriander seeds from a cilantro plant in the Dipko herb bed! I’ve set out to try and mimic some of Chef Dervinder or Derinder?’s dishes from “Taste of India” restaurant! I haven’t come close! The food is soo wonderful! Intoxicating!

    • Yeah, this will tell you how much I know: only today in noodling around online did I learn that coriander seeds come from the cilantro plant. What the hey?! Wow, you have patience. Those seeds are teeny. Good luck on Chef Dervinder. 🙂 John

  2. That’s lovely, John. Your writing physically relaxed me, I’m happier now than I was before I started reading. You have a beautiful family, kiss that fat little baby face for me. With those chubby cheeks, Cole is just so kissable.

    • Thanks, sister. That baby gets kissed so much he’s going to have lip rash before long. By the way, I’m really grateful for what you said about the post relaxing you. Not a bad thing for writing to do. John

  3. It seems like you and the entire family have a lot to be thankful for, mainly in that you all have each other…and all love each other tremendously. The world would be a better place if more could experience life the way y’all are doing right now.

    • Hey, Rose. Yeah, there’s lots of love, in part, I think, because of the rough times we went through when the kids were young. Whew! Ugh! So every day without turmoil feels like a blessing. Peace, John (P.S. You’re so generous with reading and commenting on my blog. Please forgive when I fall behind or miss one of your posts. In addition to trying to plug my book, I’m swimming upstream emotionally lately. Send good thoughts my way, sister.)

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