HANG IN THERE, BABY

Claire Na


Which set of monkey bars featured most prominently in your childhood? Innocent muscle memory comes back to me, the tensing of the body’s core and the curling of popliteal fossa over immovable objects. The blood metal old coin in the palm of your sweaty child hands smell. The thick smooth skin of paint on the bars always peeling back. Under primary colours, rust always a rough scar. Upside down the world became more interesting, a distant metaphysical thing. Listening to your own heart beat out of sync with magpie warbles, thick pulse in your ears like something tidal. Your shoes falling off and filling with tanbark. Tanbark in your socks. Tanbark in your hair. Parents picking the wood shards out of clothes that you’d already forgotten about while you wondered if there was a splinter in your toe or if it was a phantom pain – a sure sign of impending youthful death. Into the washing machine. Winter the dangerous season, makes your ascent upwards slippery dangerous frustrating cold, your kid jeans from Target picking up leftover dew but not drying the metal. But being at the top makes you firsthand witness to the potential for storms. Sometimes, the summer sun turning the bars into brands scorching. But oh when the light angles in the right spot and sitting on the bone warm bars and feeling something close to what it must be like to photosynthesise. The sun looking right through you, filling your lungs with light. You, living in the sun. A place of scribbles and brightness. Taste of old one-dollar coin in your mouth. My favourite monkey bars were the ones at crèche. Between the rest of the playground and the low brick building. High enough to feel like a triumph to climb, not so high as to be fucking terrifying. Big blue big pale sky was bigger from the top of the bars. Big big sky. Watching the clouds move and wondering how any gods could possibly have room to stand up there. I never swung off backwards from the top of the bars. I’ve always been afraid of hurting myself.


Claire has too many plants in her bedroom. She keeps buying more. It's becoming a problem.