A Poem

As I lay amongst the countless white bricks, a chill runs down my spine. For the bricks are cold. I stare upward, longing the bright blue sky, the gaze of the sun peering through the cotton candy clouds, the light wind brushing my face. For I now know, just that view, just that breeze, just that moment is a luxury. I am ripped back to reality as the rickety wheels of the lunch cart wonders about the halls. No longer am I admiring the beautiful blue sky, or the gentle breeze of the calm wind touching my cheek. My eyes are met by the dim ceiling of the empty cage separating me from the outer world. As I sit in solitude, I am forced to wonder, “Do I belong here? Is this my future?” I hope and pray it is not, for I am scared and alone. Neither of which do I voice aloud. I sit in silence, for speaking makes me vulnerable. The monotone voice overhead informs me I have visitors. An overwhelming joy fills my body, but is masked by a face of stone. “They cannot know I feel”, I tell myself repeatedly. For feeling is weakness and I must be strong to push through this. I stand in front of a large metal door, the only thing separating me from the ones I love. I pull open the heavy door, anticipating a bombarding of hugs and a room flooded by tears of joy. The door opens fully. I see a computer screen resting behind a thick layer of glass. I see my father’s face. His spirit is broken. He tries to mask the emotions racing through him. As I lift the phone to speak to him he tries to be casual. He believes he has failed me. I hold back tears and force myself to smile to ease his pain. I feel as though I have let him down. I notice an old friend in the background waiting patiently to speak to me. The phone is handed to him. He says to me, “Everything will be alright.” I feel something damp run down my cheek. My trembling hand is lifted to wipe away the droplet of water before I could become comfortable with that emotion. I crack a joke and quickly change the conversation. I told him my fear of dreaming, how it scares me to imagine a life filled with such positivity, only to be awakened to the disappointing reality of my current situation. He responds, “Would you rather settle for nightmares?”

-Julian C. Hersh