Lucy has written her life story
on hospital place mats.
Twelve years, two thousand dollars a week
in soft rooms. She
tried to get them typed, but the doctor
took everything. He said
she would only upset herself. At least
that’s what she told me that day
in the park. It was that kind of sky
you get in late September – the livid blue
that only comes when every drop
of moisture freezes on apples
and the yellow blooms
of squash or pumpkin – as children yelled
over by the monkey bars. I need to believe
someone writes it all down,
not just the atrocities -- soccer fields covered
in fresh turned soil, photographs hanging
on subway kiosks -- but placemats
scribbled with crayon, yellowing
in a hospital file cabinet, as the sun sets
over trees, and the light fades on Lucy
and me and the children arguing
by the sandbox.
I came to this planet and was held captive in a society whose carnality and material ambitions became The American Dream. Leading the way and turning the world into a toxic wasteland were the successful and supposedly well-adjusted people. All crazy people. I was rasied by people who spoke slave languages that had devolved most human potential down into two types of people: The haves and have nots.
Where surplus populations litter the outskirts of suburban communities. Feeding off trash and begging for spare change.
I was not about to grow up faithfully following orders designed to induce this Stockholm syndrome. Nope, I think the key to success in life is dying in peace.
I knew all along that the shadows I cast in life are a place to hide and amass the secret wealth... A wealth of stories. Some already written. But even better ones to tell once I'm no longer a hostage here hiding in my human skin.
Sometimes people are like butterflies. Pretty, prim, poised and stunning. They sweep in to life with confidence that the breeze they ride is sure and steady.
And there are others like spiders. Sleek, lethal, confident and cunning. They spin meticulous webs honed with professional precision.
I've seen many spiders clash with butterflies. I've seen a butterfly torn by the wind. I've seen a spider's web destroyed, and with it a home.
And the worst of it all--I have seen spiders try to fly like butterflies, and butterflies try to crawl like spiders. Our livelihood depends on our identities. And yet there are those that try to survive as something else, simply because they cannot see themselves for who they really are.
Why do we waste so much time fighting with one another when the greatest challenge is the war we have within ourselves? Why do we pick sides, align against another, and pursue disgrace to strangers when we are entirely lost to who we are. I want to guide home the hearts of people who have lost their way. But who am I, to fight for which I can never possess?
I'm neither a butterfly nor a spider. I'm a moth, whipped into a frenzy by the light, careening in the symphony of night. I chase a dream, an ideal, which waltzes parallel to reality. Careful, collected, and innocent, I dance among the stars, far away from the cold, hard ground beneath.
The ironic beauty of perspective is granted to those who watch rather than partake. I watch my insect bretheren fight amongst each other, wishing only that I could tear my flapping form away from my moon for but one second. Could I help? Could I make a difference?
The days pass, the moon sets and through all of this there is one truth. We are all so small in a world of giants. If only we were to find a common ground that we could see the beauty and the intelligence in our differences.
Would that be so hard? I mused so quietly to the spider that hovered over me. It considered for a moment the challenge I presented. I died that day, but I started something deep inside my kin. I planted a seed in the spider's heart. A seed that would someday birth a new generation of spiders and butterflies that would share in diversity.
Maybe then we would know peace.
This was what happened on the night of July 21st. It was the night Freedom was assaulted by gangs dressed in white. Freedom screamed in pain that night, and someone shoved a red rag down Freedom's mouth, to muffle the sound. Someone shot Freedom with 36 rounds of bullets. Someone gassed Freedom, and Freedom choked and sputtered and coughed up blood. Those who had sworn an oath to protect did not come to Freedom's aid when Freedom cried out for help. Justice slammed the door in Freedom's face.
On July 27th, Freedom was denied the right to speak up, but Freedom took a stand anyway, only to be met with increasingly brutal measures. Freedom was again denied the right to protest on the 28th. Freedom was shot in the head. Freedom was abused by police thugs trembling with zeal; Freedom was kicked and trampled on. Freedom bled and almost died. Freedom was framed and arrested. Freedom was no longer free to roam the streets, no longer free to live in their own home, no longer free to travel on the train, no longer free to speak their mind. Freedom was replaced by Fear, and though both cousins of the letter F, Fear made people cower while Freedom made people smile.
Freedom went home with a battered body but Freedom refuses to give up the fight. Freedom has a voice and will keep on singing. Who is your real friend and who is your enemy? Who chains you? Are you for Freedom or against Freedom? Are you friends with Deceit, friends with Corruption, or do you make them your enemy? Everyone has a voice. Half-hearted choices are not real choices. Choose, in order to live.
She lives a quiet life in the first floor apartment in a cottage in the woods. She moved in sometime before winter but it didn’t take long to learn her routine. She’s a bit of a night owl, but it’s hardly noticeable because she’s the perfect tenant. She stays busy with a strong work ethic and adheres to night time quiet hours. She keeps to herself though occasionally has friends over. She never asks for anything.
But, when my guests come over they know my firm rules: shake their towels out before using them, no screaming, and leave Charlotte alone, because the world is better with her in it.