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Letter To Freedom

Somewhere down the road where the gridlines erase all memory of cowpaths, there lived a man. He lived in a cage, with all of his things. He and his stuff occupied every available millimeter of his cage, and still he did not feel contentment.
He lived in a cage
With all of his things
The feathers had all fallen off of his wings.

He wanted to open it,
Fling the door wide,
Invite the joy in that was blazing outside.

But his way was blocked,
He could not reach the door,
For his things were in piles strewn all over the floor.

So he started throwing them out. Through from between the bars, one by one, bit by bit, until only he was left inside the cage. "Surely I can open the door now", he thought. But he was too big; he'd begun to outgrow the cubic footage that was available to him inside the cage.

So he began tearing off the things he wore. Flinging them between the bars, dropping them willy-nilly, letting them go and regretting their loss, but desperate now to open the door and let the joy come in from out there. In this way he tore off his backpack, his boots, his clothes, his little address-book and personal organizer, and finally his own feet and hands.

Still he was too big, too round and tightly-packed to reach the door. And of course by now he had no hands left. He began biting off chunks of his flesh and spitting them between the bars, sometimes aiming for a particularly tantalizing swatch of many-colored joy as it passed over his cage. Occasionally he hit one, and that one would cry out and continue its vigil over his cage, only with renewed purpose and that much more love in its eyes for the poor bloated man.

There came a day when the man was nothing left but bones, piled in front of the door. But his bones, even if they'd had the strength still which had left them with the last rejected quadricep, they would prove too big to allow access to the door of their cage.

At long last, with the passage of ages, these bones dried up and crumbled to dust and blew away with the spirit-breath of the vanished man. Those who archive the ends of things only ever saw the cage, with its shiny black bars full-formed from some mysterious Stranger's mind and eternally present to shut you all out from its space.

Yet you wonder why I flinch, when you hold out an empty cage to me and call it a symbol of freedom? Should I fly the coop for a thousand lifetimes, as long as there's something outside the coop, there's a coop.

Pulling me.

Oh cage, when did freedom become that which is not you?

-skyler, April 1999