Thursday, September 3, 2015

Swung As

What I Really Want to Know by Alan

What I miss most is swinging. It seems obvious to say and perhaps a bit too simple. Someone reading this someday might even say unearned (“too soon…wasn’t it just a few hours ago?”). But its steady pulse and gentle hand and familiar weight, mostly in daylight. It’s almost as if the motion were this dream in me diving and resurfacing, holding the breath and measuring the height.

I’m saying this because 1) I’m in a lineup again and it’s the heavy later summer air that’s readying the transition to and in between winds enough so that everything seems nailed down in thought and 2) time is precious and is moving faster than I can comprehend.

If I had a heart, I would talk about the child too new to fit but eyes, yes, eyes. If I had a body, I would ask for another push (even harder than the last). And if I had the guts, I would consider unhinging them all and seeing where we land. But what are we unleashed, my dear? Subject to gravity’s palm? Level with the earth? Staring at the stars? But this is fiction, so we are not. If this were a poem, the meditation would go like this:

A. Draw an arrow on a page that looks like →
B. Consider it a kite
C. Now cut it’s tail

How does that feel? I want to know.


Swingset by Forrest

Round and round we go and we end up. . . back here, the last place we met before not going anywhere. The community college. With the whole swingset empty you and I had taken turns with pro and con laying out the case for attending side by side in the dead of night: forward we stay home, backward we stay home, forward we stay home, backward we stay home, and that was it basically. Couple of high school grads laughing at their own stupidity. Not embracing it. Not us. I remember something about what was it parallelism but forgot the big word of it all. Or even symmetry. Worthless. Some teacher, I guess. You define both words at length while kicking your feet up and back up and back your hair along for the ride and I only watch. And I don't argue. You're having too much fun. I'm still trying to think of a book you had read for me.


An Unscheduled Moment by Johanna

After work, she went to the grocery store. She rushed home to make dinner and watch the baby so her husband could go to the gym. Her gym night was tomorrow, but she wished it was tonight. Her body ached from sitting at a desk all day. At home, she bathed the baby, played with her, read her a story and put her to bed. She pumped more milk. She thought about a book she started when she was pregnant. She yearned to read the end, but she fell asleep before the pages fluttered open.

She woke from a nightmare, a scream held tight in her clenched jaw. She checked to see if the baby still breathed. She could not go back to sleep. She looked out the window. The moon was full. She walked onto the front stoop. The air was pleasant. She walked to the park across the street. She sat on a swing and rocked a little.

A memory occurred from years ago, when she was single and lived alone in the city and discovered a dead crow on the sidewalk, peaceful and still, as black as night. She took it to the park, hugging it close to her chest and cleared a space in the brush to bury it. She said a prayer for the dead crow and so moved by the experience, she stayed in the park late into the night, watching for shooting stars, imagining how small she was in the universe, a piece of dust.

This memory made her smile. She looked up at the stars again. She was alone. When was the last time she was alone? She realized she loved to be alone. She never knew this before when she was often alone. She leaned back and closed her eyes.

She heard an owl hoot. What a beautiful sound. When was the last time her life was quiet enough to hear an owl? Was it an owl? She hoped it was an owl. The wind picked up. She felt a chill. She worried she was not alone in the park in the dark. What time was it? Did druggies squat in this park? Wasn’t there a mugging here last month? Her robe unfurled. She closed it tightly. Did she hear the baby cry? Was her husband calling her? The owl hooted again, louder, closer. She scurried back inside.


Mind Sets by Lyle

It's a lot like tennis, swinging. Like the US Open, say. Or the pretty girl sitting next to the drug dealer -- that guy must be a drug dealer to be sitting next to her. Or the nighttime sound of helicopters as you swing quietly in the dark waiting for them to find you, and off in the distance the light from Arthur Ashe stadium illuminates the night. It might very well be a hole in the ground all the way to the other side of the earth where the sun is shining straight through. It might as well be a swing set when you think about the nothing that is your life. This swing doesn't quite reach the light. Doesn't quite match the pop of the tennis ball off the racket. Not quite the big bang, but maybe a lot like tennis. You're ready for them, but they're not ready for you. They're ready for you, but you're not ready for them. It's all the same, at rest, between sets.


Swings by Sherisse

Andy was high up in the summer air, his legs were dangling, the cool chains making indents in each brilliant palm. This swinging he hadn’t done in years, this kind of love play. He was kicking like a child and, quietly inside, he was laughing. There, against the backdrop of windowed buildings and the hollow groans of the city, I could find him. Once I pushed and pushed until he almost fell off. I felt bad about our condition but I liked watching Andy’s body in motion, meeting him in the trying. From behind, I could see his spine through his shirt and I could see his bald spot. When I pressed my palms to his low back I wondered what it would be like to have Andy’s whole long body on top of my own, if falling in love happened even when you were holding back. I guessed that Andy smelled like grass and tasted like peeled grapes; that he would be all earth in my mouth. For his birthday, I made him a cake and I put fat church candles in it. I wrote in a card, “I had two children but they fell through the earth.” That was a dream I had once; I thought he would appreciate knowing me that way, through the strange ghosts in my dreams. From the swing, his hungry body ate up the whole cake with a plastic fork. When he was done I wiped his mouth with my blouse and gave him a good, hard push. He went up into the stars like a handsome and brave bird. The night was long and in it Andy stretched out over the island. I saw him go; he was magnificent even when silent and far away.


Eurydice by Bill

There is enough of a breeze to oscillate the seats front to back but the chains make little noise from this far away and it seems like a great deal of effort to move forward, walk into the shining hours of the night when the air is violet black velvet resting against our skin. Oxygen and ozone spiced and scented by a tomorrow justice has not written off. When we can leave the wondering to hang like raindrops in the air free to be plucked from the space before our eyes by the fresh faces who will come after and the measure of exceptionalism needed to persevere will not be quite as sheer, where it won’t cost so much just to be. The loose stones and the gravel will stay bright with the moon and starlight and slip and spill when we finally build up enough speed, get high enough to hurl ourselves out into the air and feel weightless just for moment until we touch down again crumpling up in a heap to channel all that energy down on the rocks, glad that gravity still wants us enough not to let us go.