The Tire Swing

There is a scent

of memory,

triggering disjointed visions.


The tin bucket

holding rocks or wood pieces.

Our versions of bologna sandwiches

with discount Mayo.


The three-legged wooden table …

A red-checkered cloth …

There was always a dented, silver coffee pot

left wondering when the next cup would be poured.


After endless hours

playing school

in the abandoned

chicken coop,

recess beckoned.


We whooped our way to the corral,

our playground.

Our classroom was a grain trough

for bum lambs,

forgotten or adandoned by their moms.


We clambered over the sagging fence

by the faded pump house

where my mom, as a child,

used to stash

Orange Crush bottles

in the chilly water tank.


The current from the Galloping Goose

pushed us up the hill,

as it danced by on the railroad tracks,

enjoying its last years on the rails.

The nice man in the caboose always waved.


I must have been 4 or 5 years old.

Around ’85, an out-of-town excavation crew

removed the last tracks heading into town,

and blew up the bridge trestle,

finally silencing the railroad engine forever.


In the late 70’s we could not

have seen this coming.

Our main concern being

who was the first to the tire swing

by the old house.

It was this person who got to choose

the sitting order.


The three of us could fit, but

you wanted to be the highest.

You didn’t want to feel the weight,

or the hot, black rubber beneath

shorted legs,

shortening your breath,

as you planted your face

into the tank top of the one

above you. Inhaling

scents of sweat, heat, and the

soil of generations of commitment

to the relentless Eastern Montana land

beneath your feet,

as you tried to push off,

legs slipping off the bald rubber

held by the twine

my grandfather’s hands tied years before

He died.


Leaving us with disjointed memories,

playing school

to the fading sound of the train horn

still floating on the never-ending breeze.

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