I feel the earth move as the pole holding
the swing lifts – up and out – of the ground
whenever my legs curl, and the pole returns
into earth as I straighten them. The pole lifts
up and down, up and down, keeping the same
momentum as my legs – in and out of the earth
as if the pole too had legs.
I see girls, my friends in the schoolyard watching
me and whispering in each other’s ear. The pole
continues to lift up and out of the earth. My legs
extend – I see my black patent leather shoes – scuffed.
When my legs stretch my head bends forward and my
chin touches the flower pin I attached to my blouse,
the pin I stole out of mother’s jewelry box earlier
that morning, for my school picture.
She will not know I stole it, wore it without telling
her, not until she buys the picture at the end of
My legs stretch out so I am even with the weeping
willow, higher than a large oak tree –
it feels like I will fly over the steeple off in
the distant sky.
My friends are still staring – probably want
their turn. I will let them – stop fast – scrape
my heels across loose dirt beneath the swing, raise
dust and cover them with sand. It will teach them
Girls around my neighborhood never ask me to play.
Most days I walk home alone avoiding cracks
in the sidewalk; mother warned me if I step on one
I will brake her back. I try to avoid dirt where
ants have pushed dirt up and out between slabs of
cement making perfect circles, passing weeds, wild
flowers, dandelions leaning over a sidewalk as if
searching for space.
I’ll walk home alone wearing my patent leather shoes
passing the grocery man who sits in his rocking chair
beneath a plate glass window, near a sign with a
giant picture of a fudge pop, and watch as the grocery
man chews the stub of his cigar. He stares… like
the children in the playground.
A few more steps before I reach our corner lot where I
live on the first floor of a two family flat.
Grandmother lives upstairs. I glance toward our front
porch, the closer I get I begin to smell the roses, seven
sisters, draped across the railing. I walk along the side
of the house where tulips, bleeding hearts, and giant
orange flowers cover the foundation.
In the back yard lines of dirt grow sticks with papers
attached identifying plum tomatoes, string beans, and
cucumbers. At the end of the rows of dirt, along the
fence grows Grandmother’s grapes, the kind with seeds
and thick skin. I think I will suck on a grape – spit the
seeds and skin to the ground.