The lassos fly in the air to catch you and pull you back into the pit.
“Dance for me,” the captors say, stealing your clothes to replace them with a tunic and leather pads.
No sword and shield to arm you. Just straps of sandals on skin tanning in the unyielding sun.
Dance for the honor of an audience in place of love. Dance for the cheers when you conquer your fears and theirs.
Dance to give your masters coin, but never raise yourself to join them, or they may destroy you.
Fight the creatures they set against you, for entertainment, for revenue. But never fight the wardens or you’ll starve.
Be gracious for your containment, for at least you’ve a place to sleep and a roof over your head.
Pay no attention to the bars of iron and the walls of solid stone. It’s a small price to pay for being owned.
Captivity captivates, commanding attention from the animals within, subdued and forbidden for so long.
Colosseum cages for the hungry spectators, content to sit and wait for blood to spill, happy to play along.
A game for the few to engage in and the many to watch to keep the many content to be docile and comply.
Masses convinced of the lie, and players just trying to stay alive, becoming glorious machines in a collective dream.
Abusers threaten to punish one for attempting to be free. Guilt and shame and gilded blame, the violent reveries.
“Stay to redeem me,” they say. “For if you go away, I am left with only myself,
the monsters in the looking glass, and the empty shells of all the hearts I’ve consumed.”
But then you use the might you’ve built battling your keepers’ demons to bust through the concrete and filth,
saying, “ I know this has never been done before, but consider the battle won. For of all the beasts you had me face, you were the most savage of them all.”
Stand tall and leave the ring. The time has come to stop dancing for others and sing for yourself.
For freedom is the only wealth.
Copyright © Sheyorah Naify, 2021