Swing-Sets - Poem by Amberlee Carter
When the wind, briefly picked-up,
stirring the swing-set in the park on 4th street-
I swear, I thought I saw
the effigy of a child, forgotten after play.
and when the branches began to move
like they were swaying with the exhaustion of mourning-
I realized they were shuddering their limbs, trying to
shake loose the million hymns, caught in their boughs.
I watch as lights in the neighboring houses
begin to die out one after another, bringing into view
row after row of porch lights and people
who sit beneath them, smoking the day’s final cigarette
or sweeping away the first leaves of autumn.
and in the distance, the low mummer of a radio, tuning in nothing
but incoherent static that sends my mind wandering
the vast plane of memory and remembrance
that don’t always agree with each other. That are so confused,
neither will tell me if the moon
on these particular nights, is insisting
the hour is the beginning of some incalculable
conception, or the nights undoing.
Travis, my lips fold around the word as though
it were a prayer my hands whispered
to a sleeping god, who’s made us all
in the afterimage of his sigh- the eternal peace
that comes just before the death, not only of
our bewildered lives, but of all things,
flown and not yet born.
I love you, like I’ve always loved you-
you remind me of the lullaby which rocks
the silence into dreams of voices, noisy
with singing the same song, until they eclipse or rewrite
the lyrics in the chorus of years
that is the funeral procession from birth to rebirth.
The wind reminds me;
we’ve endured so much, so early yet.
What to make of the indefinite valley awaiting us?
I imagine in another 20 years we’ll still wear
this cloak of melancholy, and still harbor
the same masochistic affection for swing-sets
and all they represent- as well as
the resignation that come with knowing:
it is impossible to see the world
through a kaleidoscope of hope and joy, rather than as
a wind, tearing itself away.
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