Poem: The Tree in the Playground

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

of breath.

 

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)

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