My Freedom

By MARIA DE CALDAS ANTÃO

 

 

My freedom is not
to answer the phone
or open the door. I don’t care

if I’m not liked anymore.
I’m free to be that, disliked, to sweat
to be that—take flight, from like or dislike.

I’m free to put a bullet through my head
when I can no longer piss alone.
I need to get that bullet. Then I can choose.

I’m free to choose what I want to be,
what I think of me, and I’m free
to blow it all up, if it displeases me.

Perhaps pay a cleaning bill first.
Just to be considerate. Not
because I have to.

I’m free to learn to be
indifferent to you, indifferent to me,
indifferent to my emotions:

rational, like a robot, free—
without empathy.
I will not have been born for you.

Yet I’m free to love you,
if I so choose, let you limit
my freedom, interrupt

my thoughts, fragment them
with yours—what I perceive to be yours—
touch me perhaps. Or beat me up.

I had it all, once, before I was thrust
amidst you, all of you. I’ve lost
sight of it, fight to recover it,

am imprisoned by fear, imprisoned, free
to buy what others have slaved to produce,
free to enslave. Yes, I’m free to enslave.

And to choose—not to.
And I’m free to lie in bed all day,
if I have a bed—I’m free to steal a bed,

and then lie in it. You’re free to tie
me down to another bed. I’m free
to shit on that bed or wherever I want,

and to shit on life when I can’t shit
where I want anymore. You’re free
to shit on me—you should be,

and to give away your freedom,
or exchange it, part of it: what we have.
We can only give away what we have.

But not all we have. I have
the illusion of will. I have movement
in my limbs still. I have this thirst

for freedom, more freedom.
I can give all this away. I can’t
give away my thoughts.

They come fleetingly,
flutter free of my control.

Unless I use that bullet,
and eradicate them, and eradicate
that core, that freedom,

which I can’t
give away but can
silence for ever more.

 

Maria de Caldas Antão lives in Lisbon, Portugal. She holds an MA in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University, and a degree in acting from Mountview Academy in London. She has participated in the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and received fellowships to attend the SLS and DISQUIET literary programs.

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My Freedom

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