Purple Scaries are swing events. My girlfriends and I used to swing side by side, holding onto the inside chain of each other’s swing as we increased our arcs. When we got high enough, we’d swing our legs toward each other until we could lock knees by crossing our feet. Then we’d let go of each other’s chains and alternate our swinging until our swings twisted together. We called this activity Purple Scaries; we’d twist until we couldn’t keep it going, then put our force into untwisting, only to twist our chains up even tighter the next time, then we’d use our bodies to untwist, pulling our heads in as the bars grew closer, twisting again in the other direction, even harder—over and over again.
Thrill seekers, we were lucky we didn’t smack our heads against the swing set bars. Purple Scaries plague me still, but I don’t share them with my students. I can’t be responsible for the blind stupidity of a thrill seeker, and at 50, if I tried one, I just might puke.
The story about Tiff D in the piece is true. She knows her mother is in jail, but did not know what incarcerated meant until Charles Dickens taught her.
Purple Scaries twist swings in my mind,
manic and laughing, chains twist round chains,
winding childhood back and forth.
A dizzying affair
hewn from my neighborhood schoolyard,
fused through the halls of today,
annealed in my teaching
manic and persistent.
Tangents wax tales, chased and connected
back to basics.
While the subject verbs the direct object,
we fork through the fodder of our lives,
some of it forlorn, like when David Copperfield
teaches Tiff D that the word “incarcerated”
does not imply reward.
Sudden realizations open chasms to our soul.
That’s what we fall into, that’s what we explore.
Clashing understandings open possibilities for discovery
while manic sand drips through the hourglass
onto the playground, beneath the twisting
swings that drive me to a place
where fear and desire collide
panicked and consuming.
Lunch duty and I find myself
looking up at the Montana sky.
Can Tiff D’s mother sense them from her cell?
Brenda Warren 2012
Visit The Sunday Whirl.