- William Carlos Williams
After I left, we hung it in the sky so everyone can see what Black women have done for the world. Against our will or not. I discussed it with the stars, and they agreed to holding up a part of me that will burn the longest, since the labor it took to live down here can never be repaid. But most people recognize it as a constellation called the "Big Dipper." Anyway, once there was a poet who wrote a famous poem about everything depending on a broken-down wheelbarrow rusting in the rain. I think fairly highly of poets and still give them ideas, and this man was also a doctor. Quiet and thoughtful. When he was going about his day, I whispered about the ugly wheelbarrow I spent a lifetime with, pushing it back and forth for the fire.
"William," I said, reaching through the wind to grab his ear. He was walking with a black umbrella and enjoying the mild rain shower. There was a farmhouse coming up the road with a wheelbarrow in the front yard. Someone kind had planted red geraniums in it. He slowed and faced the direction I was pointing, noticing for the first time the homely little wheelbarrow. Smile lines broke through the slow earth of his face. Something good was happening, he was sure of it—and so was I because I told him. [End Page 33]
Nikki Wallschlaeger's work has been featured or is forthcoming in Nation, Georgia Review, Brick, Witness, American Poetry Review, POETRY, and others. She is the author of the full-length collections Houses (Horseless Press, 2015) and Crawlspace (Bloof, 2017), as well as the graphic chapbook I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel (Bloof Books, 2016). She lives in the Driftless region of Wisconsin with her family.