Bogdan Dragos

December 08, 1992

to melt the shackle

it wasn’t morning yet
but he woke up
to the sounds of cheering
and applause

He looked around
and saw
shadowy figures with
elongated faces
and bright, white eyes
staring at him

“Congratulations, they said. You
have awakened.”

“What in the hell?” he
said, looking around
startled. “Who are you?”

“The messengers,” replied
the shadows. “We are very pleased
to announce that you
may collect your prize
whenever you are ready. You’ve
earned it.”

“What? What did
I do?”

“You awakened. In a world of
sleepers
you woke up
and are therefore eligible for
ascension. You might follow
us through the hole
in the ceiling whenever you
are ready. All that’s left
to do here is
to melt the shackle.”

“What?” he said

Then one of the shadows
have him a small
bottle that smelled strongly
of gasoline
and a box of matches

The other shadows
pointed to
his desk, to all the papers
stacked on it
and under it
and all around it

“Those are my poems,” he said

“Indeed. They represent
everything that keeps you
tied to this world. Your shackle.
Burn your shackle and melt it
away so you can ascend
and take flight. The time
has come.”

“I worked all my life
to write those
poems,” he said

“Yes, you did. But now that you
are awake you see that
they’re all in vain. For
nothing is real
on this plane. It’s all
a dream, of course. You have
designed it pretty nice. A simple
dream spent entirely in
the confines of a narrow room
with low ceiling. Drinking
and smoking and
writing all day long
and late into the night. It’s
a beautiful dream. No family,
no friends, no communication with the
outside world, and no desire
for any. You’ve thus taken
a shortcut to awakening, but it’s by
no means illegal. You’re still
eligible for ascension. So,
whenever you’re ready, we are.”

He watched the shadows

The shadows watched him

He reached out for the
gasoline and matches, looked over
to the desk and the stacks
of paper

Looked for a long
time

Closed his eyes
and went back to sleep

The shadows were gone
by the morning
but they left the gasoline and
matches
behind

He got out of bed
went to the desk
by the window
opened the blinds
and started writing
another poem


***
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