For the past few days, I've had the windows open, and I hear the call of birds as I write or surf the web. There is one call in particular that stands out, a mocking bird I'm sure. One long tweet followed by a lower-pitched short tweet and then a slightly higher, off-key short tweet. Instantly, I think of the swings.
When I was just a little ape, about once a week in late spring and all summer, my mother would pack up our giant, wooden picnic basket with the smiling sun on top, load us into the car, and take us to Memorial Park on the backside of the public swimming pool. My brother and I hung from jungle gyms, dirtied our bottoms on metal slides, got stung by yellow jackets, and (my favorite) swung on the swings. These were old-school: black plastic U-shaped sling seats that burned the hell out of your legs on summer days, long just-rusting chains, and towering A-shaped pole supports.
It's the bird that reminded me, see, because at the park was the first time I ever heard that call.
Tweeeeet, tweet, tweet, just like the squeak of the chains as she swings. Listen! He thinks he's found a mate, but it's her on the swing. Poor, poor bird.
Back, forth, the pendulum child stretches out her legs, leans back on the chains. Higher feet, higher. She reaches, reaches and scoops the clouds with her soles.
Down she goes, knees tucked tightly. Lean forward now, but don't fall out!
Soar, reaching, stretching, yearning, until she gets so high that the chains go slack. Weightless for a moment, her bottom leaves the sling, then she returns, the chains catch with a loud CLANG. Watch your fingers, honey, the chains pinch; they leave blood blisters and blood and a worried mother. Fingers safe, she wobbles wildly for a bit on the back arc.
When it's the dry, hot misery of late August, she watches as the poured concrete around the pole wiggles in the grassless dirt. She sees the earth crack, sees the pole puff out dust as it settles at her lowest point. She wishes for her brother, because if they synchronize, they can get a bit of the pole to come out of the ground. They can see how the concrete looks like a crumbly, gray mushroom. It won't come out too far though. These things are buried deep (lawsuits and all).
Tweeeet, tweet, tweet. She swings up, up. At the highest point, she leans back and lets go. Little girl, let your feet fall over your head. You will stick the landing with a smile.