Fall 2012

Table of Contents - Vol. VIII, No. 3


Poetry    Fiction    Translations    Reviews   

Michael Ratcliffe


The Tire Swing

The tire swing hangs straight,
rope unbent by play,
time unmarked
by a daydreamer’s lazy pendulum;
grass has grown into the bare patch
where feet once scraped
and pushed off for speed.
The children are gone,
to other trailer parks,
acres of double-wides in the sun,
clean, suburbanized, orderly,
and out of the way;
to cramped apartments
stacked atop one another;
or to motels along Route 1
where they play among the tires
of parked cars and diesel trucks,
feet scraping across an asphalt lot.
Among the trees and the weeds,
all that remains:
an old washer,
toys that fell from a box—
forgotten and unnoticed—
empty concrete pads
where trailers stood,
cinder blocks holding up only air.
When the tree is cut down
to make way for a four bedroom home
and a manicured lawn
with its ornamental tree,
the tire will swing again,
for just a moment,
before plunging to ground.


Visiting Day

Outside the fence,
women and children stand
below the tower,
bored guard watching
the Saturday morning routine.
Mothers, wives, girlfriends
stand silent and stoic,
arms crossed, waiting.
Children talk and play
with their Saturday morning friends,
filling the time until the gate opens.
All waiting, as they wait each Saturday
for their time to visit
sons, husbands, boyfriends, fathers,
to sit at a visitor’s room table,
hold hands, hug, talk,
just like the rest of us
at the end of each day,
after work and school
around the dinner table.

Outside the fence
women wait and children play,
all doing their time
as they do each Saturday
under the gaze of the guard,
waiting for the gate to open.
This scene a repeat of last weekend
and the weekend before that...

At the end of the line
a young girl sits,
back to the fence,
head in hands,
watching traffic pass.


© Michael Ratcliffe


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