Ode to a Bucket

This entry is part 9 of 31 in the series Odes to Tools



As a bucket ages,
its galvanized surface
takes on the look
of new ice — that blue-
white jigsaw puzzle —
or a flock of cranes.
Something in its make-up
clearly rebels
against its type-casting
as a mere container
or temporary conveyance.
Even half-full,
for example, the handle
cuts into the hand.
People rarely think
to store a bucket
upside-down, so when
the bottom rusts through,
it can at last retire
& start life over:
a planter
for marigolds
on top of a stump
in a crew-cut lawn;
a transportable target
for rifle practice;
or hung on a nail
in the garden shed,
a home for wrens.
They line it
with grass & weeds
& perch burbling
on the rim,
bobbing up & down
on spring-loaded legs,
drawing from
an inexhaustible well.


Carolina wren silhouette

Series Navigation← Ode to ScissorsOde to Forks →

10 Replies to “Ode to a Bucket”

  1. I like this a lot, especially the first and last sentences. Two things, I think, kind of make it choppy for me. First, the second sentence takes it out of the nice time sequence suggested by the first line. That is, my sense in the second sentence is that these aspects of the bucket’s make-up are evident no matter what its age. Second, I think the “People rarely think” clause kind of distracts from the poem’s movement. Besides, no matter what the cause of the bucket’s bottom rusting through, it can retire as the poem describes, so I think that sentence’s thought could be more clearly expressed. I love the crew-cut lawn, the rifle practice, and the wrens.

  2. Thanks for the comments. Peter, those are very helpful criticisms. I must say this is not one of my favorites, but it does seem to have some good ideas in it, so maybe I’ll attempt a revision.

  3. That’s some phat graphics of the simplified, saturated, altogether rendered wren. Cropped high off-center, the cruciform silhouette affords a place to be something else.

    Ever heard of James J Gibson’s theory of affordances and his “ecological approach” to understanding visual perception? I’ve been wanting to mention him to you because I caught your interest in eco-porn and found myself ready to find his ideas of interest– so thanks! I love his term “affordance”, and think this silhouette affords a great place to go, a hole in a high place. Gibson has great language and writes of “nested” imagery. This silhouette is very well nested, binding the windowpane to the field, or is it woods beyond, like a clamp. A three-toed clamp.

  4. First time I’ve been since the new design; it’s great! Everything here seems to have a new freshness. This poem is gorgeous.

    And I’ve just spotted what might be a link I’m looking for in your blogs feed reader…

  5. Lucy – Thanks! I’m glad you like the new design.

    Bill – Oh, that’s good. “Speak!” came with the theme, and I hadn’t gotten around to changing it. I guess it’s a lot less boring than “Reply” or “Add Comment.” And since I do use plenty of exclamation points myself in these threads, it’s not like it’s wildly out of character for V.N.

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