Metaphor for a borrowed existence 

When birds fly from tree to tree. 
The branches strain to hold them up. 
And that’s a metaphor for a borrowed 
existence. I cut myself with a rubber knife 
when suicide is not the goal. 
To go over that edge of wanting. 
Back and forth between denial 
and acceptance. I may not have 
a choice of when and how. 
There are of course many 
metaphors for extermination.
I mean I have flown from tree to tree 
to avoid death from the innumerable 
hands hauling rocks at me. 
This isn’t about me but about birds. 
Giant birds. Colorful birds. 
Songbirds. Birds of prey. 
Endangered birds counting down to gone. 
But you can see me there. 
In the picture of the birds. 
In the church of avian beings. 
Small, colorful, and endangered. 
The beautiful thing about a metaphor 
is that it can become many things. 
It can hold you up like a tree branch. 
And strain and strain 
until a rock knocks you off. 

*Photo by Krisztina Kovari on Unsplash.

Hope Joseph
Hope Joseph is an essayist and poet. He writes from Nigeria, West Africa. His works are forthcoming or already published in Notre Dame, Christian Science Monitor, Augur, Stormbird, SolarPunk, Riddlebird, Reckoning, The Sunlight Press, A Longhouse, MukoliMag, Flute, Wizard In Space, Curio Cabinet, Speculative City, Timber Ghost Press, IBUA, SprinNG, Evening Street Press, Zoetic Press, Spillwords, Writers Space Africa, and more. A Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee. A joint winner for SEVHAGE/Agema Founder’s Prize for Creative Non-Fiction. He’s a reader for reckoning press. He was a fellow in the 2021 SprinNG Writing Fellowship. He tweets @ItzJoe9 and is on Instagram at _hope_joseph_writes