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Archive: American Haibun & Haiga Volume 4

[Return to Author List, Vol 4]

William J. Higginson


Santa Fe Shopping Carts

The brand-new store comes with brand-new shopping carts, and in the first few weeks when there is lots of help around and people are impressed with the new carts, there are few casualties. However, as the first month or so passes, one or another suffers a bent caster housing and a wheel that has its own direction in mind. Other carts develop flat-sided wheels; pushing one of them is like moving crosswise over a dirt road. Finally, a wheel breaks off altogether, leaving a gleaming axle that soon picks up stray mop strands.

Such carts gradually congregate—usually at the back of the in-store cart corral. Near the end of a long day they are often the only carts left in the store, the personnel situation having deteriorated along with the condition of the carts. A few stragglers, hardier than their shut-in cohorts, staunchly defend their rights to various choice car-parking spaces. They’re not about to move on without a lot of coaxing.

The occasional cart, borrowed temporarily to wheel the groceries to a tracthouse, ends up in a nearby arroyo, where its baby seat becomes the base for a birds-nest. When the monsoon season hits, mid summer, the cart sinks into the silt and catches debris, thus ensuring its permanent place in the landscape.

summer storm
a shopping cart rolls past
the end of the lot

Sometimes a cart is trundled off in its prime by a human who employs it to carry all worldly possessions. Such a cart may be seen shining through the dusty leaves of a small grove of Russian olive trees, or gleaming dully where the river has gone dry in the shade under a bridge.

socks hang
air crisp through the chrome
of the shopping cart

Even this lucky cart, however, serves only its allotted time. Come winter, the homeless person sleeps in the library during the day, keeping on the move at night, or possibly signing in at a shelter for a night out of the gritty wind.

By early spring, it is time for a shipment of new shopping carts.

deep in the arroyo
just the red handle
of a shopping cart

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