The Swing


If you wade across the little gully creek behind the old iron cook-stove (the one used once a year to boil a hog? yes, that one...) and climb up the vine covered hill (with purple flowers, right? yes, child…), there is a tall oak tree at the top. It’s crooked and leans a little to the left, but hanging from a high bough is an old wooden swing. The ropes are long, and the seat is rough, and if you don’t sit carefully, it might tip you onto your butt in the dirt. When you sit down and start to pump and swing, you’ll see how what looks like an ordinary old tree-swing becomes so much more. Perched at the top of the hill, when you swing out over the creek, you are about a mile high. If you’re lucky, your uncle will meet you on the hill, and be waiting to grab the swing, jumping high with the arc of your ascent, and heave you with all his might back out over the ravine. Your breath will catch in your throat, your heart will pound, your knuckles will be white on the old ropes, and your laughter will explode from your tight, swirling stomach as you swoop backward past the soft worn earth beneath the tree and arch high over your uncle’s head. Your mother will watch, pale-faced from the porch, whispering to the other women as they set out baskets of chips and shoo flies. She knows, even though you do not, that if you fell while soaring high over the creek, you would probably die. It doesn’t matter. You don’t fall, and you don’t die. But you do know what it feels like to fly.

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16 thoughts on “The Swing

  1. And this is why I read your blog. It is a joy and a delight to read your writing.

    Since childhood, I have had a recurrent dream about flying. You captured the escape, joy, and reality this dream is to me.

    I didn’t dream my flight dream last night, but this piece makes me wonder if actually I did. Because that feeling of knowing I can fly, secretly and only when I really need it, is with me again.

  2. Thank you all. This is actually a post I’ve been meaning to write for about four years now.

    My uncle, who shares this memory with me, holds a dear spot in my heart. For some reason, yesterday, I finally was able to capture the feelings in a way that did them some measure of justice. It still pales to the real thing.

  3. Beautiful, thank you.

    This reminds me of my grandparent’s farm that I was able to visit this summer after 5 years away. The old swing wasn’t on a hill but it was the same feeling. To my dismay the rope had rotted away (it’s only been 25 years). But there was a new swing, made out of an old tire. The top had been cut out to make a nice seat. My daughter spent most of the day in it.

  4. My uncle from this story called me today from DC… he read the post and just called to tell me he loves and that the memory I shared is one of his most dear as well. I’m truly blessed. And for some reason, I cannot stop crying- it’s like a dam burst, and I’m just overflowing.

  5. Tracy… I don’t comment here often (nor do I make myself known much over on MMW), but it’s one of my favorite places to come read. Your words make me happy. I hope they make you happy too.

  6. I’ve compiled some photos for a slideshow in a Youtube video I made and thought to inform you that I’ve used this photo πŸ™‚

    If you were wondering, it’s a cover of Priscilla Ahn’s Dream πŸ™‚

    Thankyou! Great shot btw!

  7. What an absolutely phenomenal portrayal of that old swing I took for granted for so long. It saddens me that it’s gone now, but makes my heart glow that I’m not the only one who remembers it. My daddy put it there the year we moved in … This will warm his heart, too. Thank you SO much for sharing this memory πŸ™‚ Some days, I wish we could go back there!

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