By Clifton Holt Jolley

Swings in a Park

A seemingly constant fascination for things that are:
If there are nine
Chain seats upon the bar
Then he must swing at every one.
“They are all the same,” I say to him each time
And in between each one, “Nine,
And each precisely copied
As some play yard Plato designed—
A perfect set.”
But, each suspended chair used up, he whines,
And down the line
We go: hand in hand—one through nine.
“The child is father to the man”
(was it Longfellow who understood?)
And he shall come to understand
When time
Has forced the fragile metal of his mind
Into a closing door
That can no more sweep the open sky
In renewing arcs of flailing feet
Than fly,
Nor ever come so close again
As before.
I see one where he knows nine
And demands to know them all.
It’s a bother,
And yet, somewhere, behind
What I’ve become,
I remember chain chairs in the sun
And a man
Who paced me down the line.