Here I am, a grown man on a playground swing,
my half-century showing plainly in the gray
of my hair,
kicking my legs exuberantly
swinging higher and higher,
the tips of my toes even with the treetops,
holding tight to the chains,
feeling the pull of gravity on the downswing,
the exhilaration of escape velocity going up
as if I might release to the moon.
A man my own age jogging by gives me a scowl,
disturbed, I suppose, to see a grown-up
on this child's thing.
A dog walker--a woman half my age--averts her eyes,
as if anyone as old as me must plainly be demented
to be swinging so lustily,
alone in the gathering dusk of this deserted park.
Soon, I feel I am and was always meant to be
this weight upon a swing,
a pendulum kept perpetual by just a slight kick of the legs,
a little backward lean, slipstreaming
through the respiring air
the way gulls and hawks play upon the obliging breeze.
I watch the moon travel across the sky,
the creak of the swing like a squeak in the planetary gears
as I do my small bit to power
the rotation of the earth.
Later, walking home, my scissoring steps
feel like a paltry, impoverished thing.
Half-awake in bed, I feel that lullaby rhythm,
the lilt of the swing,
the soreness in my shoulder blades
the ache of little-used wings.