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Friday, May 3, 2013

365 Poems: She flies

After the game, when it's time to go home, I realize I've lost her. She was playing nearby and then she was gone, running with some other kids, and they're out of my sight.

They won't be far. I'm not worried, not here at the ballpark, so I walk behind the concession stand and the bleachers and the backstop, and now I hear children laughing and the familiar creeaaak, creeaak of playground equipment.

Her elementary school's beyond the diamond, a gated chain-link fence between, and now I can see kids on the other side, climbing and running and swinging, someone swinging as hard as she can, reaching for the sky with azure shoes, pumping quickly,

And it's her, our Cee, I realize: A blur of pink in the sweet spring evening, long legs straightening, then crooking, and then the stretch again to go higher, her honey-blond hair flying too, catching the last light of the day--

I can't see her face. But I don't have to: For her whole body shows her joy, and I stop, just for a second, to watch her, and remember that feeling of being as light as the clouds above, of nothing being as important as feeling that little hitch in the swing's chains as you pump hard enough and go high enough to touch the sky with your toes, maybe --

Only children can feel that. Adults try -- with alcohol, with drugs, with porn or hobbies or friends or video games or whatever obsession we try to drown ourselves in -- and fail. All fail, none even a cloudy shadow of the feeling of the little girl on the swing --

I call her name and she glances over her shoulder; she's ready to go, jumping off the swing, running up the shallow hill, glancing through the gate, her skinny legs bringing her towards me, laughing, her eyes like the sky, too, and I take her hand and tell her I want to take her picture by the tulips because she looks so pretty, and what I don't say is that I want to remember her forever just as she this day, this moment, when she is nine and still our little girl, and could swing so high.

And as I write I realize I've been given two gifts today: The gift of Cee, of her happy heart, and the astonishing potential of her tomorrow; and the gift of writing about her, for as I've done so, I, too, may have forgotten myself in the clouds -- just for a moment.

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