I once lived inside a nation known as
They where notions of propriety were
gray and taupe and beige and
sometimes black and blue.
I listened well to all that I should do from
smarter, larger, older denizens on how
to be a well-respected citizen of They.
Obedience and compromise;
civility, servility, don’t look too smart
just smart enough and play your part.
The places where you sizzle and
occasionally drizzle are the property
of They, so do not say what’s on your
mind or in your heart, except in latter
case on matters cardiac. Yes, do.
They’ll join your heart to batteries,
replacing what you’ve sacrificed
to live in ticking harmony with
They, with They, with They…
It took some little while for me to see
that They and I are not in symmetry.
I started off by writing pretty things that
won me little claps and purséd grins.
It felt so good I wrote a little more
and found that They now started
to ignore. Okay.
And then They said,
you ought to write. Confused,
I started up again and all seemed
good—until I wrote what They
considered wasn’t right. It all
turned into something of a fright.
The Nation-State of They, I ought
to say, is not all bad. Like any
congregation they’ve a few who
servant-master shackles will eschew
in favour of original and true.
And so I wrote for them, those few,
and gained a bit of praise attached to
strings some puppet master pulled that
tripped me up, until it dawned on me the
nation-state of They is fabricated, not of
feathers, bone or clay but fear—uh-oh,
too much, pull back!—and anytime
I pushed beyond that line, the pain
of They bled into what was mine.
And so one night I’d had enough
of clunky laws, injunctions to obey.
I packed a canvas bag and crept
away from They.
The nature of the journey I shall keep
to me for now, but this I’ll gladly say:
that from dawn to dusk with finer friends
I play with lovers who’ve transcended
feet of clay to dance among the Graces
in extraordinary places.
For you to reach this nascent state,
I cannot help, for everyone must find
his own adoring impulse that will lead
him to explore beyond the tawdry
and the shrinking state of They.
But happily the skies are clear
and I can see from where I stand
that I shall meet you here and now
and nowhere else one bright
and sunny day.
© Elaine Stirling, 2013