An Individual’s Elegy

Dessa Hayes examined the plight of the notion of individualism itself in a poem she crafted on the subject:

 

An Individual’s Elegy

We all know that individuality is a treasure

And that there is no shame in carving out our own paths

As long as those paths lead us all in the same direction

No one knows for sure where we’re going

But the way they talk makes it seem that we are headed for paradise

They tell us that we can reach this nirvana, by ending our suffering

And our desire for things we do not deserve

As long as we accept our carbon copy lives as doctrines

As long as we hold the mould that has shaped who we are

We are saved

For if we move too much against our frame, we spill over

Like a cake with too much milk and not enough flour

To create something that can be relished

If we resist, we are no longer perfect

There is no beauty in imperfection

There is no joy in solitude

There is only order

And without order, there is only chaos

I want a new order

Where we burn the blueprints of our houses, our gadgets, the things that we do,

The things that we say, the things that we wear

And we become our own architects

I want a new order where we cast off the shackles

That bind us together like we’re criminals

Trusted enough to carry our balls and chains

But not trusted enough to even see a key to our freedom

I don’t want to be a prisoner

I want to be the bird that carries the wind on its back

As it soars higher and higher away from its cage

And away from the pain of the cramped wings and ruffled feathers of a pet shop display

But I am not a bird and you are not a bird

We are sheep

Bound to the shepherd who doesn’t know our names

But knows when he says “Come” that we will come

And knows when he says “Stay” that we will stay

And knows that without him we are nothing but wolf bait

The shepherd is quick to crucify the wolves

And preach about their gnashing teeth and rending claws

But he says nothing of his own ferocity

Of his callous heart or his fiendish tongue

Or his loyalty to the flock

That barely exceeds the width of a speck of dust

We follow a crook that pokes and prods us for his own pleasure

As he leads us along our path to paradise

Someday, he says, we will reach it together

But as long as I am in the herd, I know, without a doubt

That I will never reach my nirvana

– Dessa Hayes

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