is that it can feel scary as hell, at first.
Even as you celebrate the broken shackles,
the lightness of your limbs feels unnatural,
like you have become untethered
and might just float away.
When you wake up to the wide open space
available for running around,
romping and playing and jumping
and making noise,
or sitting quietly just to feel
the warmth of the sun
and the cool of the breeze on your face…
one little part of you will gaze back
to the door through which you ran
as soon as you finally saw it
and gathered up the courage to leave.
Okay, maybe you were speed walking,
and maybe there were fits and starts,
and maybe you got stuck in the doorway once
while concerned onlookers
tried to pull you back,
but eventually, you made it out.
Your eyes squinted
as they adjusted to the light.
How could you prepare yourself
for brilliant sunlight
and soft green grass
and endless blue skies
and intimate bird songs
when all your senses have known is
deceptive fluorescent lighting
and cold linoleum floors
and glass ceilings
and noise blaring from amplifiers?
Yet, you felt in the very marrow of your bones,
a sense of coming home.
You were made for this freedom,
but some days, you might find yourself
huddled against the concrete wall
in a corner of shade provided by the building
that once held you captive.
You can faintly hear the voices
coming from inside,
comforting in their familiarity,
singing the song of the insider language.
You are startled awake from your reverie
by the coo of a dove perched in a tree nearby.
She gently calls you back,
reminding you that you belong here,
despite the allure of your captor.
When you look up,
you see a familiar face—
someone you knew from Before.
She straddles the doorway awkwardly,
looking back over her shoulder one minute,
and then squinting in the sunlight the next.
She looks afraid and injured,
like you were once.
You leave the corner
where you were huddled, stretch your legs,
and reach into your back pocket.
“Here,” you say,
handing her a pair of spare sunglasses.
“You’ll need these here.”
You smile and her face relaxes
as she puts them on.
“I used to watch you from the window,”
she says. “I thought I saw you… dancing?”
“Yes,” you say, remembering.
“I was so scared and free.”
“And now?” she asks.
“Sometimes I find myself
inching over to the doorway,
out of habit, I guess.”
“But I can never go back there.
Just this morning, the dove reminded me
of my beautiful, wild, terrifying freedom.
So now, I guess,
I am a little afraid
and so very free
and a little less alone.”
The two of you sit together in silence,
your bodies remembering everything
your souls have endured.
After a while, she stands up.
“I think I’m ready to dance.”
“Lead the way, my friend.”