The Girl in the Swing
Just this side of a coulee, on the outskirts of the city,
We find ten year old Helen, in a new tree swing, sitting.
A gift from her grandfather, bought new in a box, dangling
from a prime tree in the pasture, capable host for hanging.
She is timid at first, getting used to the feel of strand,
Squeezing the cord accordingly, in the palm of her hand.
In time she will ascend to heights unsurpassed, in flight,
but for now, she takes in stride, the ride, future bright.
Over the years, she would be found there, floating aloft;
Drifting, dreaming winsome at times, perhaps in deep thought.
On the day she turned eighteen, she became of age, an heir,
At the apex of thrust, seeing civilization, just over there.
She had a plan in motion, had consulted a trusted adviser,
Only this confidante knew her intents, no one else the wiser.
This would be a gamble, a big step to take, to subdivide,
What began on a hunch, the numbers crunched, on this glide.
Her scheme, on the level, as level as the turf they surveyed;
In no time at all, gravel was spread, then black top laid.
Utilities in place; word on the street, lots here for sale;
Initial pricing steep, then descending, on a sliding scale.
Phases One and Two served to settle, recoup her investment;
The third and final were put in a vault, serving as profit.
Within weeks, all the lots for sale were gone, save for one,
The prime lot, the ground her willow tree proudly rested on.
From her perch, over time, she witnessed neighborly things.
The seasonal comings and goings a divided commune brings.
Families milling about, in the warm months, a barbecue glow,
When the winter cast its spell, taking turns shoveling snow.
More and more, inhabitants spoke of the girl, in hushed tone.
Her time to stay varied, as she appeared daily, always alone.
One can only surmise, what all, curious onlookers had to say.
From the looks some cast, they seemed to wish she'd go away.
One day, fate intervened, as fate will do, on the path to walk.
As several neighbors gathered, one approached, needed to talk.
True, he had received a new job option, requiring he relocate.
False, he nodded toward the empty swing, intent to insinuate.
In an effort to keep up with the Jones, he put on a facade.
The others did not take in stride, or see through his fraud.
He made it official the following week, house on the market.
Within weeks, similar signs cluttered yards, like a blanket.
To everyone who played the real estate market, a big surprise,
As each house sold on the initial showings, very first tries.
With offers to assume mortgages "as is," owners sold cheap.
Most got out while the getting was good, took the same leap.
In time, all the houses sold went into rental service mode.
There was only one family unit left to hold onto their abode.
The renters came in a hurry, fine houses in an area perfect,
A full time maintenance firm in place, zero property neglect.
The new dwellers never noticed, (transients are just that way)
The girl in the swing, who was still found there every day.
They never judged or cast aspersion, even on a lark or whim.
She had every right to be where she was. It was fine by them.
None of them knew, she was their landlord, did not presume.
There was nothing about her that gave them cause for gloom.
At first sign of spring, the first barbecue, she was invited.
She respectfully declined, but took note, she was not slighted.
When they left her, she could not resist a turn and smile.
She thought aloud, saying, "I might join them in a while."
She was brought back into the present, by a gentle voice.
A little girl of nine to ten before her, spoke by choice.
She and her mother were the only home owners to not leave.
The mother scolded the child, and was told, no need to grieve.
The youngster spoke boldly, when apparent opportunity arose,
As the girl in the swing gave her the floor, in full repose.
"I was just wondering, if sometime I might sit in your seat."
Hearing this, the mother cringed, wanting to take to the street.
She arose from her throne, with a natural glow on her face,
And hoisted the child, spun and put her secure, in her place.
Speaking in mock admonishing tone, said to hold on tight,
As she got behind, and gave it a push, with all her might.
To the mother, she offered, "Don't feel I've been taken to task.
For so long have I waited... She is the first to ever ask."
Michael Todd (2015)