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Escaping Every Cage

Janet Kuypers

I felt caged in this tiny Windsor hotel room
I wanted to get out

that’s when he struck
I was attacked, knocked over, strangled

I managed to break free
scraped arms, bruised and bloody knees

strangers offered to help me
as I made my way through the lobby

I had to get so far away,
I left the country and never went back


when I couldn’t take being trapped at work
when I was too caged by those office walls
I quit my job
and drove around the country in my car

now, I know a car can be a cage
but with this little cage,
I felt like I could be free
and could go where I wanted
and do what I wanted to do

I was free for that split second of time
until someone tried to kill me in my car
and they put me in another cage again


when I was in the hospital for weeks
I would tear the medical bracelet off my wrist daily

please don’t track me

when I was able to walk,
I would try to leave
but I didn’t know where to go
and they would find me again
and bring me back to my cell


when I was a child,
I wanted to get away from my family
wanted to get away from my town
I wanted something bigger, faster,
stronger than anything I ever knew before

and so as I grew older
I took those childhood memories
those childhood toys, those childhood stories
and one by one
started placing them on an Island
surrounded by deep water
where no one could touch them
and they would always remain
just on the horizon


I have always loved the water
swam all my life
I swam in pools with friends when I was little
I swam along side the tropical fish off the Oahu coast
I swam with dozens
of White-Tipped Sharks off the Galapagos Islands

when I get closer to water
I get itchy to just jump in

but even when I could let go in the water
I’d see that Island in the distance
holding all of my childhood traumas
and I still never felt entirely free


one day
I decided to face these ancient cages
that still hold me down

I wanted to face it all
battle all of those past demons

so I went down to the shoreline
arched my hand along my eyebrows

looked for that Island of mine

the water at the shoreline lapped over my feet
pushing the coastline farther inland today

I kept searching
until I realized

my Island fell into the ocean


everything from my past disappeared
except my memories


that day,
I couldn’t go into the water


we all have our cages
sometimes we can’t see them
but they’re there,
holding us back
restraining us
holding us down
holding us in

as I sit in my cage right now
I look at these walls
hear the cars driving past me
and I think of these things that hold us down


maybe we sometimes need these cages
to protect us
when we don’t know how to protect ourselves

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