Rope Swing Summer
Off to the right,
A space opens up in the brambles that line the creek.
He swishes through high grasses to the opening and enters.
From the top of the slope, he can see the rock slab at the water's edge and
the thick worn rope hanging from a branch stretching across the creek.
He climbs down to it, reaches out, grabs hold. The sturdy length gives him enough slack
to pull it all the way back up the slope.
The worn path at the top makes room for two or three steps before push off.
He flies through the summer day.
Air rushes by, smelling of dust, heat and dry grass.
He feels the rough hew of the rope in his hands;
It catches the grooves of his calluses, promising to hold on.
He glides back and forth, again and again,
Over the sweet blackberries on the slope,
Over the water tumbling across the creek bed rocks.
This is not the day the branch will give way and snap,
landing beside him with a crack on the hard slab.
This is the day he snacks on garden apples and blackberries,
snags his jeans on thorny branches as he pushes further in
to snatch the plump ones just out of reach.
This is the day he enters the opening and disappears for hours,
So far away he’s in another world, free to be anything, do anything.
It’s up to him when he finally drops the rope.
And when that moment comes, he watches it swing a few times before coming to stillness again.
Sweaty, purple fingertips, he climbs back up and into the back forty.
Crosses the dry grasses and salutes the garden apple trees.
He slams the screen door on the way in.