Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Playground Rules” by Marcie McGuire, a poet, writer, beekeeper, and contra-dance musician. McGuire received her BA from Georgetown College, her library science degree from the University of Kentucky, and a second master’s in creative writing from the University of Missouri. Her poetry has appeared in Midland and Kansas Quarterly, her flash fiction was published in Well Versed 2017, and her mini-memoir appeared on the Daniel Boone Regional Library website as part of their One Read program 2016.
McGuire resides in Missouri with her favorite dance partner and beekeeper. Learn more about her interests and obsessions at https://marciemcguire.com/. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or friend "Marcie Slone McGuire" on Facebook.
Swinging on your stomach was
against the rules, as was turning flips
or hanging upside down by your knees
from the monkey bars or standing on
the wooden seats of the merry-go-round
holding on to chains suspended from
the center pole while we children
leaned first one way and then the other,
putting our weight into it, to make it go
“ocean waves.” The teachers, huddled together
near the school, did not want to hear about
how fun it was. They did not care that when you
pressed up against the swing and took a running start,
then came up against the limits of the chains
and pushed off from there with a little jump,
it was as close to flying as you had ever been,
with your arms stretched out in front and
your legs behind, your dress fluttering
like wings, your hair lifting and falling
in the wind. They did not care to know
how you felt like a sea captain high on a
rolling deck during an awesome storm.
They weren’t the least bit interested in
how funny the world looked when you were
upside down. They could not see what we saw.
They saw only danger when they looked at us
hanging upside down by our thin legs
like that, our dresses covering our faces.
Poet’s Notes: This poem attempts to capture the excitement and freedom I felt as a child back in the day when we were allowed to test our limits on equipment now considered much too dangerous for children—wooden teeter-totters, metal slides two stories high, a merry-go-round built of wooden slats suspended by chains from a central metal pole. I feel sorry for today’s kids when I see my old school playground covered with shredded rubber for protection and stripped of the most fun equipment.
Editor’s Note: McGuire captures the derring-do and creative imagination of childhood beautifully here as well as a bit of nostalgia for the times before the wussification of America’s youth.