Explore UAB

by Natasha Deonarain

NELLE 3 | 2020

The backyard overlooks the neighbor’s
cemented clothesline, flat-topped like a
baobab draped in snapping
multi-colored leaves and she’s five-years-old—
says my mother six months before
she turns seventy-nine.

She makes the swing from rope taken
from her father’s shed, throws two long pieces over
the strongest branch she can find, knots each under the

        and climbs on top, spraying small clouds of red dust
over shiny shoes
as she kicks herself off the ground;

back and forth and higher and higher—

until suddenly
her legs catch on the clothesline
and she’s hanging there, brown-gold pigtails
stretching to the concrete below.

She doesn’t scream or cry, she says, laughing
on the other end of a long-distance phone call and no one
comes to help but
she’s not sure if she’s got the story right,

remembering the pain, the scars on the
back of her knees
and if she could turn around she might find them again.

I see her free in the segregation of where I was born,
kicking dust,
kicking rooftops and clouds, scars fading from her knees and broken
right hip,
        alone on the floor in the dark
as momentum swings her body
back and forth,
higher and higher, black patent shoes
and white-lace socks kicking, kicking against a clear blue sky.

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