The day 17 prompt at Poetic Asides was “write a swing poem.” I wanted to try a different take on the word “swing,” but after walking around and around the prompt for the past ten days, I finally went with my first idea—recalling how Grandma Martha always recited Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Swing” while we were airborne and straining to go higher and higher:
WHILE WE WERE SWINGING
We always begged for a push on the swings,
whether we played on the park’s heavy chain
and metal pipe contraptions or on our own
flimsy backyard set. As she placed her hands
on the swing seat and shoved, Grandma
loved to chant How would you like
to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue?
Stevenson’s poem was probably the first
I ever memorized, although Grandma
always stopped after the second stanza.
Up in the air and over the wall,
till I can see so wide…
Her voice swept up the waltz
in the rhythm, giving special emphasis
to Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
ever a child can do! Even if she recited
the first line only, my inner voice would take up
where she left off, my pumping legs carrying me
forward and back with each line break.
Up in the air I go flying again,
up in the air and down…