Ambling a forest path, soft earth
cushions his feet. Winding past
ancient trees. A tawny buck, branching antlers,
crossing the trail. Frozen
for a moment, then gone.
Picking a berry, spot of blood—Prickly vine,
purple black and juicy.
Beyond the pines he spies a lake,
and longing for its cleansing chill, he—
Shackles fling him upon the ground.
Here Master dictates.
Reality found at the end of a whip.
Heavy loads and
heavy labor are his lot.
A slave to the whims of others,
worked to exhaustion,
he is skin draped on a bony frame.
By twilight he dines on meager dole—
beans and rice.
Above the tinkling of chain on chains
and the muted groans from tired men,
under the first stars of the coming night,
the hoot owl calls. He closes his eyes
…and longing for its cleansing chill, he—leaps,
gasping in the cool, clear water.
Swimming with strength unknown for years.
Plunging deep below the surface,
and he accepts its grasp….