Prisoner and Key

Metaphors for life are bountiful –
perhaps this one will still serve well:
we seem born into a prison,
each awakens in a cell.
Every cell is different, but
all share a certain something –
for one thing, they’re all jail.
Some will try to beautify their cells,
some will pound their heads against the walls,
some will even carve wise markings there
about how the cell isn’t really a cell,
or even suspect that the Jailer
is not other than themselves.
Who knows how or when or why,
but a key may slide between the bars
some random night that turns just right.
Locks tumble, rusty doors creak,
then furtive footsteps in the dark –
Most such lucky inmates
beat a fast path to the light,
but now and then an odd one
sticks around to share that key –
for some mysterious reason,
it just feels somehow right.
Once outside in free fresh air,
it may occur to some of them that
they were never really bound, or that
it was all a weird nightmare from which
they’ve mercifully been spared;
while in the yard,
through the prison bards,
the rumor spreads about a key,
and yet for most, this prison life
meanders onward, aimlessly.
Will you be one of those
who won’t look back until
you yourself are free;
or perhaps the rare one who
returns to help, right down
to the last detainee?
In any case,
for those that
dare to contemplate
“Who or what’s to liberate?”
that question,
if they stick with it,
turns out to be the Key.

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