Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Swing High, Swing Low

That's like the tides life, high one minute, low the next; but in this case my subject matter concerns swings of the swings-and-roundabouts variety, children's playthings. I remember we bought a tiny, indoor one for No. 1 daughter when she was toddler.

She took her first three steps at just eleven months old. By the end of that week there was no stopping her; arms held sideways a little for balance to begin with, like a circus performer on the high wire, but very soon confident enough to career around as if she'd been doing it all her life.

By about eighteen months, the blue, tubular framed swing became a favourite of hers, once she'd learned the knack of holding the ropes to steady the seat, which adapted from a bucket seat with a cross bar for very young occupants, to a slightly more grown up version.

Before too many years elapsed, her enthusiasm for this swinging lark had the blue frame 'walking' across the carpet, and eventually we got a proper garden swing set up on the grass outside, while No. 1 son put in his appearance and made good use of the baby one indoors.

By the time he was about four, his favourite method of swinging on the outdoor one was tummy on seat, head and feet precariously dangling on either side, while fingers-crossed-Ma watched, uttering silent prayers for his continued safety. No. 1 daughter was more inclined to simply swing, although not above twiddling round and round to twist the chains occasionally, in order to make her own variety of whirlygig ride as she finally picked her feet up off the ground.

The children grew older and taller; the chains grew rustier and the swing more rickety, until it became virtually ignored, an accepted part of the garden scene, unremarkable. Which prompted me one day to write the following poem:-

Playground Ghost

An empty swing sways in the wind
rust covering ancient supports,
moss beginning to grow along edges
of bleached, wooden seat.

The ghost of forgotten childhood
plays its solitary game of hide and seek
with memory which dances in imagination -
but who can say if imagination dreams
of things past, or future?


  1. Your poem brought tears to me eyes ... just beautiful!

  2. Aw. That's so sad. I love garden swings. Do your grandkids play with it Jinksy?

  3. Oh, sad little swing. Just waiting for a new beginning.
    Some sand-paper, anti-rust primer, pot of paint,
    and not least an energetic hand to bring it back to usefulness.
    Lovely Jinksy.

    Love Granny

  4. I do love this one. Would be great if you could photograph the swing and ghost in the poem on top!

  5. Lovely poem. Longing for a little child to sit on it & push it's feet out for a lovely swing.
    I loved doing this as a child but never had a swing.

  6. I think we can all relate to mouldering swing.

  7. You touched our heart with this one.

  8. You brought back some sweet memories and lovely poem as usual:)

  9. Oh, this poem leaves me speechless with delight and a lonely ache...at the same time...this is fabulous! Thank you!

  10. Yes, as they grow older, the swing isn't something they want to play on any longer.

  11. There is something so achingly poignant about an empty swing with rusting chain and splintered wooden seat swaying slightly in a gentle breeze and you've captured that image and painted it for us with your magic - again.

  12. How poignant, lovely - as usual, glad I stopped by....

  13. Absolutely lovely. I too, remember the abandoned swings in my back yard.. long outgrown. Your poem brought that memory back as if it was yesterday.

  14. Jewels & Granny -The swing was in our old house, so no granchildren used it, and it got beyond the refurbish point! Sorry you missed out on one, Maggie May, and sorry to everyone who felt sad after reading the poem. Never thought a swing would touch so many hearts...

  15. Jinksy, nice one. And kinda scary a little for this mother of two, but new things will come in their wake. I know this.

  16. Isn't this a poem for every parent whose child is over the age of eleven or so?

  17. I Fondly remember that swing Ma, have to say though, the joy isn't lost. I still swing at every opportunity, although it would be great to have another go at belly on swing seat with legs and arms dangling..... what I need here is... oh where is that book????? Ah yes, here it is.... "The shrinking of Treehorn"! Perfic! xxxx

  18. I an almost hear the old swing creaking in the wind!

  19. What a lovely nostalgic post!

    It reminded me of the swing we had here in the garden. Very tradition, a home made thing of rope and a wooden plank seat, it hung from the pear tree. By the time we moved in here, the older boy was too old to use it much, but the younger one loved it!

    Mine had doorway bouncers when they were tiny!

  20. J - I hope they never had, nor met, doorway bouncers when they were grown up!

  21. oh the swings were always my favorite as a child and i loved pushing my wee ones until they learned to swing themselves.

    what a marvelous poem too.


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