October 13, 2008

Flying

I remember when
my grandfather would take me flying
on the swingset in the playground behind the drugstore.

He would set the swing in motion,
and I listened to the old chains
creaking their approval. I cried out,
"Higher! higher!" through a mouthful of wind.

My grandmother would always shout at us
to be careful. But when I flew
toward her, I could see
her eyes were shining. She seemed to me
beautiful and old. My mother is now older
than she had been

when last my grandfather took me flying.
He would push me, once, twice,
until I was flying
on my own, sailing
far above him, sometimes wondering
if I might fall, then deciding
not to wonder. I never fell.

Every time we stopped, I would
plead to go flying again. But finally,
my grandmother would say it was time for dinner.
My grandfather would whisper, "Next time,"
and, as we walked home, I knew
there would always be a next time.

Today,

I wandered past a playground. I do not know
if it was the same one; probably not, but
there was a swingset. I climbed on,

pushed off,
scattering leaves the color of a fresh #2 pencil
beneath my oversized feet,
and swung up
to a construction paper-blue sky,

higher and higher, till I thought
I might fly,

if only
I could stop clinging to these old chains,
or maybe if
my grandfather was there to push me.

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