I arrived with an expectation. I thought I would be unconstrained. I walked into a field. I wanted to play. I ran and jumped and skipped and spun around in circles until I felt dizzy and fell on the ground. I ran in a straight line forever and ever and reached neither end nor beginning again. Over thousands of years, or maybe only seconds, my legs grew tired. Boredom swelled up in my eyes like tears and I could see nothing new.
I cried forever. I ran again. My feet blistered and bled and my wounds filled with dirt. Leaves sprouted from my ankles and I ran slower and slower, taking root in the soil. I stood. I was standing. I am standing still.
I look around and realise that I’m not alone. I turn to look at you, next to me but seemingly metres above me, hovering over the field. I've been listening, I really have, but I’ve heard only silence. Now you speak to me in a language I don’t understand. You’re standing on something I can’t even touch.
You climb down to me gracefully, as if you’re on an invisible staircase. You don’t even look at your feet. The structure is in your bones. You cross your legs and sit on the ground with me. You’re looking at the grass, running your fingers over the dirt. It’s been a long time since you’ve seen it, but you don’t really let it touch you in an intimate way. It’s more scientific, like you’re trying to dissect it using the grass stains on your jeans as a scalpel.
You dissect me too, with your questions. You ask what I think of the metal bars and watch as I jump and try to grab them with the vines holding me down. You laugh and hoist me up on your shoulders like a child, sweetly but violently ripping me from the ground.
The sun is hot today, and every other day. You take one of my branches and place it on the metal bar, scorching me. My leaves catch fire and I scream. My bark burns away and I see something under it that looks like you – skin.
The moss in my eyes turns to ash and I see your structures. I follow you up the staircase and into your tower, where you teach me how to live in your metal cage. Without sunlight, I wither by your side. You tell me I will learn to live, but you have only taught me how to die.
Daisy Elizabeth Feller
Image by FW Studios, used with permission.