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Susan Constable, Canada

Hanging On

I'm five years old, either scampering hand over hand along the monkey bars or shinnying across a goal post while my mother cheers.

A year later, after my older brother rigs a rope between two trees, he makes me go first to test the knots. I scramble high above ground from cedar to maple, having no idea I should be scared.

It's not until I'm in my teens that Mum tells me the rest of the story. Apparently my grandfather begged her to stop me – said it was far too dangerous for a six-year-old. "Just don't look," she said.

one night
alone in the cold, fast river
of an adult dream
I struggle to reach the shore
with only grief to hold onto


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