Growing into it

So, I saw you many days when I was but a child.
You were in fine leaf then.
We lassoed you twice and made a swing.
When days were happy, we swung
among your slanted sunbeams and jumped off, sailing,
into your baby’s breath cushions,
just in time for the dinner bell.
When days were unhappy,
we knew, and stuffed our pockets with stolen sandwiches,
in hopes that they wouldn’t come for us
until the fights were over.
We had our bug jars,
and caught fireflies to light our way home.

In time, I got a little sorry.
Father gone, mother so sick, brother needing a wing to enfold him.
I tried to do what was expected, to be called a man.
Odd jobs, gone all day.
Having to talk to the grown ups about plans.
Sporadic were the times we saw you then.
Your weathered tethers had snapped.
The cracked wooden seat hung crazily in the warm breeze,
drawing childish patterns in the sandy track we had worn.
I took a picture, and left you for a man’s age.

I write this now with a bowed head, for I am old.
There’s a happy young family now, on this lane.
They’ve shyly let me wander their back path.
You’re not the worse for wear, you know.
The grooves we once cut into your arterial limb
are now sporting new stout ropes, with a big black tire.
The sand pictures gone, with time’s etch-a-sketch.
You’ve seen all the weathers of the world,
and I wonder how many children you have made happy.
You seem to stand and study,
and, I wager, you have many long names
for this vector in space and time.

And so, I have grown into it.
Whatever it is.
But I think you will still dream your long names
until the world encroaches at last
and you must go
the way that I am going.


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