New Poem: The Swing


The Swing

There stood a swing by the edge of town
that lifted us over our lives.
It graced the ragged grass of a farm,
and the hired hand would pause and watch
as we kicked off into the blue,
one at a time, over the years,
swinging with nothing else in our eyes
but the edge of town and the sky.

This man had seen people come and go
and whole populations go.
Such memories rob your mind, he said;
they steal on you at any old hour
unless you have toils and cares.
So he tended the hens and watched the swing.
It was the swing, he said, that creaked
his ragged mind to repose.*

I came here when in doubt of the world
or in search of a lift of view.
Dozens of others have done the same:
we swang and thought, swang and thought
our way into gilded mind.
All of us yearned for an edge of town,
a place to sit in the wind and song,
a place that, swaying, still stood.

Inside, the owners looked on the scene
that frothed and seethed in their eyes.
It is good, they mouthed, with our children grown,
that the swing has carried on for so long,
but look at the filth and the noise.
Tomorrow we’ll take it down, they vowed.
And so it happened: overnight
a canticle dropped into time.

Not long ago I saw a swing
much like the one I had known.
It stood on a farm, removed from the road,
so I watched from afar, and it eyed me too,
as though we were both on display.
I shook my head and headed on.
Speech would have cost too much to repair,
and the hush was acceptably true.

*He may not have found the hens as calming.

Image credit: I took the photo during my bike trip in northern Hungary.

I revised this poem (in several stages) after posting it.

Leave a comment


  1. Elisa Holquist

     /  June 22, 2017

    Hello from the mom of a CSS student. We miss you! If you haven’t already come across it, you might enjoy the poem “Birches” by Robert Frost.

    • Thank you, Ms. Holquist! I miss CSS too and am looking forward to the graduation ceremony today.

      Frost’s “Birches” is dear to me. Rereading it just now, I found so much humor in it, especially “But I was going to say when Truth broke in / With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm.”

      Here I was thinking primarily of Stevenson’s “The Swing” and Yeats’s “The Dolls.”

      I wish you a happy summer!


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