A Few Looks Back and Forwards and Floating

A Few Looks Back and Forwards

‘Life?’ he looks bemused
‘Life is like a swing set
You have it in your garden, and birds shit all over it’.

He nods wisely,
Those fearless high fliers, fancy dippers
Dive-bombing, spiralling through skies
Swivelling, swooning, riding on air, careless,
Your onetime aspiration, when you were younger.’
‘When I was a kid I was-
I had a bird in a cage, fluttering behind carefully crafted ribs, steel.
Look up at those ones now though, flapping around all over the place
There’s going to be a lot of shit to clean off that swing set later.’

‘I used to have a hold over my heart.’

‘It’s like a swing set you see, it’s got two extremes, two sick-making apexes
And they’re essentially the same from a distance.
But to you, one’s tipping, one’s flying
One’s skipping, one’s crying
One’s slipping and dying and one’s gravity defying
And people say they give each other meaning’. He laughs.
‘There’s a lot of value in stilling it, standing on it
Balancing some way- a great many books you can read on equanimity
Equilibrium? Equidistance? Equipment? All of the above.
And I do value stability but
You’ve got to have a swing
Before you swing, laddie’

‘It’s like a swing set
I’m free to give you a push if I’m nice enough
But it won’t sustain you forever, you’ve got to keep pumping
Play your instincts against gravity
Nobody can replicate the feeling for you’
‘Like a bloody swing set
It’s mostly just good for kids
It’s got a few seats and they don’t tend to stay level with one another
But don’t be the idiot who forgets that they’re all made from the same plastic by the same factory’

‘It’s like a swing set
Who wants a swing set anyway, once they’ve grown up and had a look at the world?
It’s like it’s screaming at you to have children
What’s a swing set got to do with anything? Why a swing set? How am I supposed to use it in the winter, in the rain, in the frost?
It’s ugly from most angles, it’ll get rusty and I’ll spend all my time cleaning it and getting it repaired, I don’t have time for this and it’s blocking my view of the sky and the trees and the pond
I’m not a child anymore
I don’t want this’

‘It’s like a swing set
An escape, an indulgence, for you and whoever you feel like sharing with, just mind the snails
It’s in your garden
It’s right there, it’s so easy, just wake up and open the door
But you’ve got to wake up and open the door’

His eyes grow dreamy

‘Like a garden, full of living things:
Life is full of living things
Yes, I’m quite sure of that’
‘I really do like my garden
I grow tomatoes
I have a pond and everything
But I don’t feed the bloody birds’




A bobbling little vessel,
Chained anxiously to the banks,
Swinging to and fro with the weight of every larger body that passes by-
Becomes Christmas.

I overwinter in steel-capped boots and a fishing hat.
On the day of families,
I am started awake
by the slamming weight of a goose.

A foggy green murk,
brewing goose shit and waste from the retail park ,
is keeping me floating.

My laugh, rich and hearty,
Carries clearly from bank to bank
Unanswered but whole:
I am, I am,
I still am.
Like a wave: up and down, loyal to form,
Looser and weaker with each subsequent oscillation.

And as I stride up and down the canal in the rain
With the dirty water smell lifting the air-
As we untie the chains and I clamber on to the roof-
My safeties sink into the space that opens between me and land.

As we slalom through the bigger boats
and wave-by miles of marsh,
doubts linger behind
among those cloudy mists
Which stew atop these
December fields.

Labour limbers the bones,
Leaving the heart a little looser,



Alannah Taylor is studies Neuroscience at the University of Bristol, UK, and really likes to write.

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