The Victorian Wheelbarrow

At the Wirral show
there is a man
in a tarpaulin stand next to
the tent where children
pet farm animals
he is left alone
feet shifting for grip on damp grass
treading curled red deal shavings
and the smell of fresh cut wood
into the earth
people pass
rushing to avoid the cold and rain
to get to the car stands,
to see the displays
of hand crafted plastic jewellery,
to get to the fair
they do not notice that he is
carving at a bench
the fluted  handles
for a replica Victorian wheelbarrow
or that he has reclaimed
the skills and tools
of long dead craftsmen
made them his own
makes wheelbarrows
as functional as ever
solid wood constructions
that eased the labour
of Victorian gardeners
but these
are destined to be
plant containers
and will never have the sweat
of calloused hands
round the patiently
or be chipped and scraped
by tired bent backed men
these will be talked about
on patios and garden paths
and maybe someone will paint one red
put plastic raindrops on its surface
and stand it beside stuffed white chickens
in the Tate
maybe I will

Jim Bennett

If you have any comments on this poem, Jim Bennett would like to hear from you.

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