The American swing in its oak shelter
with a living roof sprouting carved tusks or
dragons teeth is very RHS Wisley.
My five year old grand daughter has just
ridden on it and is now pushing it
for the pleasure of others until a tall,
lithe boy of twelve or thirteen arrives
and begins to punt it slowly at first
then faster and higher but always
with care. She joins him, holding the ropes,
urging the swing, and leads the ecstatic
laughter of all the children gripping
the bench as it launches to the sky
and returns to earth, again and again.
Suddenly, I think of Holden Caulfield,
lost, gentle, loving, and his ‘goddam choice’
for what he would wish to be – catching
children in the fields of rye before they fall
out of reach, out of sight, over and over.
Note: An American swing comprises a PE or old fashioned school bench (without the feet) that is hung from ropes or chains and that moves like a saw or a pendulum from side to side – rather than to and fro like the conventional single seat swing. Like the Indian swing, which moves to and fro, the American swing will accommodate more than one person. At the time of posting, this one has been removed. In Surrey, where Wisley is situated, there are, it appears, risk averse literati.