Children of a Humanist God

by Christine Adams Beckett

As a mother, I pretended to teach
My daughter to pump a swing;
’Twas more like a persuasion
Of her legs and brains
Into her natural and instinctual abilities.

Gravitational forces,
Manipulation of a swinging
Pendulum of joy by a rhythmic
Pumping of tiny legs, outstretched
By Pavlovian-like response
To the metallic squeak
At its hinged, friction-full pivot point.

Rocking herself, an oscillation
Of comfort, she discovers that
A harder kick results in a
Higher trajectory, a bigger thrill,
And eventually, the ability
To fly, if only for a moment,
As her tiny hands release the
Chains, and her bottom leaves the
Propylene rubber strap of a seat,
Her yellow rain boots higher than her chin.

For a moment, I see my own saddle shoes,
White polish bleeding into the
Brown arch, laces frayed and
Soles worn from braking a 1974
Model of the same pendulum.
I had learned the hard way that
The pain of landing, the sting
Shoots through the soft bones
Of the heel through developing shins.

Vestigially I felt the same flip
Of the stomach, anticipating
Euphoric flight, which suddenly turned
To the realization that nurtured fear
Left me the child, learning to navigate
Galileo’s research on pendulums,
Which proved useful as time keepers.