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to those in a cage text image

Ravens were my favorite, with their midnight feathers full of mystery, dreams, and the whisper of age-old spirits.
I loved the hummingbirds beating their wings at what seemed to be the speed of sound as they sipped sweet nectar, fast and free.
Doves reminded me of all of my wishes, of peace and love, of a happy future that seemed so attainable.
Even pigeons fascinated me, the way they thrived in public places, unwilling to back down, even to humans.
Reality was a bright-blue sky.
I floated on wings made of dreams.

As I feel my dirty sneakers greet the pavement, I notice the people around me.
Somehow the pigeons on the sidewalk are freer than I’ll ever feel.
The people are a cage, and I am a pitiful bird, rocking back and forth, reaching out for the comfort of a bright-blue sky that never comes.
Every step means suffocation.

I am lost. The cage doesn’t notice.
But I don’t notice the other lost souls either.

The cold faces that make up the looming bars of my cage and block out all else feel like strangers.
Even the ones I am oh-so-familiar with.
My mother’s judging gaze, my peers who I know judge me, even my friends.
They are all strangers, surrounding me.
So I mumble “sorry” and move deeper into my cage.

I prefer the meaningless excuse of “sorry” to voicing my own opinion.
It is what people want to hear,
Expect to hear.
Saying it doesn’t mean I’m “too nice for my own good.”

In fact, I’m selfish.
So selfish I don’t even deserve to be writing a poem about birds in cages.
Because I’ve never been caged.
But some people have.
This is for them.

This is for the people who create the cages.
This is because I want them to see that they’re hurting people.
Don’t you understand how painful it is?
With every action, you place another bar of abandonment in a cage big enough to house millions of hurt, lonely souls.
I know you don’t mean to hurt people.
I believe beings are good at heart.
But we make a lot of really bad mistakes.
We are terrible and wonderful, and these inconsistencies make up our being.

I wish I could shed my skin and human doubts and become a flying, soaring spirit of song, joining the birds that made their true home in the sky.
I would fly with wings made of songs that aren’t happy or sad, good or bad, but a hopeful sort of in-between.
I would fly like the birds I admired so much, but on wings that remember I was once caged too.
So I can fly over everyone who needs a little hope.
So I can show them—you’re not alone.
I’d fly over everyone
Because maybe everyone has a cage of some sort.

Naomi Angel Farkas
Naomi Angel Farkas, 12
Los Angeles, CA