The tree scrapes the sky.
In the corner of the playground,
a childhood initiation- to climb
until we could touch the sky too.
It took me longer than the others
unsure of the first step, the right
spot to anchor my foot and to push up
but I managed in the end.
Dirt-covered hands, toe of my shoe
wedged in the fork, my hair in my face.
It’s harder than it looks from below.
a tear in my jeans catches, an intake
I stand above the leaves.
At the highest point I see the whole
village. The whole world it seems.
There’s a twig in my hair, dark bark
on my skin and my jeans
from the climb.
They call me from below- a cheer,
a question of return. I reach to
touch the sky-
I can’t quite do it.
The climb down is harder-
footholds searched for and hands
clinging to the surety of the trunk,
biting into the bark until I can’t feel
my fingertips anymore.
The leap to the ground is jarring,
concrete, no longer abstract
the tree towers above me again.
The next girl reaches for the first
branch and hauls herself up. She is
surer than I: knows where to pull,
how to reach for the cloudless blue.
There’s a swing- a tireless tire
there as long as I could remember. I sit.
I long for the sky.
By Shona (DP2)