Accomplished on a Yellow Swing

Lithe and energetic, she swings continually
and talks nonstop. We speak of tricks
to perform on swings, how flyers
learn the trapeze, the benefits of nets
and harnesses. I tell her when I was a girl
I could somersault backward off a high swing
while grasping the chains, and this
triggers her competitive streak.
She must learn this stunt as well, and now.
So I raise the swing by several chain links
and take down the glider she claims
is an obstacle to her success. In gradual steps
I tell her what to do. She tackles each
with an eight-year-old’s determination and belief
in her own invincibility. When finally she learns
to pull her long legs in, knees tucked to her chest
as she leans back, I give her butt a helpful push
to send her over. She lands on her knees,
dirty and a little shaken, but shrugs off
my concerns about overdoing it. The second time,
she lands on her back, coated with bark shavings
and twigs. By her fourth attempt, she’s gotten the idea,
then surprises us both by accomplishing the feat
without assistance. Even in the dusk, her face radiates
her flush of pride. She races ahead of me to the house,
fresh master of a new skill, covering ground
with a longer stride that has nothing to do
with height. She clutches like a prize ribbon
this latest confirmation that she really can
do anything she wants if she tries.

Prompt source: Last Tuesday night on my regular visit, S.Hooligan wanted me to sit in the bathroom while she took her bath. Through the shower curtain I asked her, “If I wrote a poem about you, what would you want me to write about?” She replied, “Why would you want to do that?” I said I’d written poems about J.Hooligan, which inspired a long spiel of all the talents and abilities I should describe in a S.-inspired verse. Instead, I focused on the new acrobatic feat she’d just learned.


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