I’m an Artist, and I’m Not Free

I’m an artist,
and I’m not free.
I live in an invisible box,
miming my freedom.

I imagine this box,
six faces, eight vertices, twelve edges,
it’s a cube.
The cube is drawn with precision,
the symmetry is impeccable.
The lines are straight,
touching each other just enough,
the faces are so flat, almost ironed,
rock solid, strong, and black.

Sometimes I pass the solid
for fabric. After all,
I can breathe.
The edges aren’t rough,
but they’re sharp, like a sword
or the edge of a paper.

I often contemplate
the size of this box.
Sometimes I have to sit and bend,
sometimes I can spread my arms
wide open
but mostly, I have to crouch.

I sometimes feel envious of the box.
It’s perfection is dominating.
The thickness of each face is identical.
The length of each line is identical.
The black of each face is as black,
not less, not more.

I often try to become like the box.
I straighten my back,
lay my palms, straight,
on the flat surface of the box.
Still, I’m not as symmetrical,
my ups and downs still curve,
so do my sides, and not equally,
not in proportion either. Not
symmetrical, not straight, not
flat, not ruled, not identical.

The perfection of the cube is still dominating.
Still, I try to become like the box.

I wear black
to camouflage with the box.
But my black is never black enough
to match the black of the box.
The black of the box is translucent,
I can see figures through the box
of people looking at me.

I wonder if they’re looking at me
or the shape of the cube
that I try to mime.
trying yet again
to become like the box,
the perfectly structured box,
in which I reside,
pardon me,
in which I am caged.
I am trapped in structure.
r u
is out of bounds.
I’m an artist,
and I’m not free.

Devi Dang is a final-year student of literary and cultural studies and theatre. She is a young theatre artist navigating her experiences as an artist through her poetry.

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty