Cedar Swing

B.L. Gentry


Among the switch grass and the plowed
bamboo tongues of deer plant and lily turf
overtaken by Tyler Crossing, an addition
where frames are still going up,
and right in my backyard, in the one American elm,
my husband has built a swing:

a board of imported red cedar, edges
sanded, holes drilled in the seat, ropes
halved from a plastic length.
Rope-ends through the holes,
he knotted them, tied the ropes
to a branch reaching
across a fencerow to a creek
yet untouched by the dozer roads.

When you step back to look at it
as at a full picture, this branch is a furrow
really in a tree's textured brow;
in spring winds, it shakes
its green leaves down and hangs them
beside the ropes, the leaves showing now and then

their backs like silver minnows
erupted from a flooded pond,
flipping, and seemingly turned by the sun,
down into a concrete drainage ditch
my father poured once in the belly of a pasture.
I suppose it could have been

that on that same day, when he came home,
he also built a swing for me—
a split log and chains. A child doesn't mind
the splinters in the backs of her legs,
rust grinding in and changing
the color of her hands
or the elm stuck out of hillside
that sets her up to meet the ground.