I remember sitting on the swing, mid-summer
With my head in my mother’s lap
And a slight breeze tickling our cheeks
As the cotton candy skies faded to a navy hue
At the home in which I’d lived for several years.
She played with my short, messy locks
While softly singing “Kumbaya, My Lord”
In time to the familiar faint screech of the metal swing chains above
And a mile away, the church bells performed
A mellow harmony that I’d heard in the past evening mass
(Which I hummed along to inside my head
But hadn’t the courage to project).
This day reminded me of each Christmas with my family;
The almost irreproducible sheer joy and feeling of peace;
The fervent ringing of merry carols from the bells;
And the anticipation to tear into the tauntingly shiny paper
Impatiently lying under our aromatic blue spruce.
I would wake up as early as the sun peeked into
My highly decorated window painted in crystals and white
And hastily awaken my siblings and parents
To gain permission to descend our creaky carpeted staircase
While the snow fell and the sun ascended.
As I grew each year older, I always found our trees lovely,
Rife with sporadic yet sentimental selections of accessories
And multicolored lights twinkling, like an aurora
(Albeit a singular bulb that always refused to glow).
I enjoyed the trees so, and one year my parents gifted me
With my very own Christmas tree, to live on our porch.
My home is an archaic house of bricks, which stands out
From the others on our street like a goldfish in a river of trout,
And it is small in size, simple and cozy in intention
(That is not to say always comfortable for a family of five)
Yet it is where I’ve lived for a majority of my life, and it is home.
Years later, as my unruly locks of hair grow finer and fuller,
As do the size of my multiplying books in school,
I choose to let my little legs carry me home once the final bells call,
But first stop at the worn corner store as always,
Hosting the interminable scent of candy, dust, tobacco and nostalgia,
To purchase my favorite sweet treat of cotton candy ice cream.
Life was still relatively simple then:
When time or calories did not count, and full presence
In every moment was attained. I used these to moments to admire
The way the trees swayed in the wind, to feel
The delicate green grass under my sneakers, to notice
The annual budding of those few fabulously violet flowers in our front yard,
And to inhale the fresh and honey-like scent of spring.
I would step onto the porch with the fresh baby blue paint
Which was already beginning to chip with weather and wear,
And sit upon my beloved swing, with a book open in my lap.
I would let my mind wander as the hours,
And days and seasons and years slowly crept away.
Now I sit on the same old, unchanged swing
(Admittedly the bolstering rusted metal chains screech a bit louder),
And wonder what is to come, and if our quaint little house
Will remain upright with the addition of burdens,
And if family bonds will change with the winds and the loss of time,
Like the accumulation of dust on my old treasured bookshelf,
Or the chipping of another inch of dried paint on our weathered porch,
Or the loss of a few more needles of my aging Christmas tree.
And I stop. And I doze and I daze and I dream like before.
I imagine that I am seated on my once favorite carnival ride as a child,
And my long legs thrust me as high as I can go,
Flipping and flying and whirling through the air
Like a trapeze artist, and I never want to come down
But I do, and I grin a silly, timeless grin.
And I feel a gentle breeze caress my long, tame locks
While I sing along to the peaceful murmur of the tired church bells,
And the cotton candy skies once again begin to set
And in this moment I know the answer.
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