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What am I?

What am I?
Maryam Alatmane

There is a squirrel in me… nestling in the fork of a tree trunk… foraging alone for pine cones on the forest floor… I hear the crunching of leaves on the pavement, and I run… back to my comfortable drey, where I curl up… away from people, I stare beyond the trees… the rooftops protrude out, bellowing smoke; an eyesore in the beautiful wilderness
There is a sloth in me… my arms gripping the sturdy branches of the rainforest… my obstinate refusal to get caught up in the rat race that we call life… Instead, I take my time, think, breathe, live-not by your definition of living, but by mine… the sun shines through cracks in the canopy… I close my eyes, I have no intention of moving, I will not move and you-with your blinded perception of the world-will not make me!
There is an elephant in me… strutting through the savannah of life… tearing at the grasses of society… my trumpeting voice sails across the air… a cacophony of noise surrounds the waterhole-as we laugh and talk and play… I am the matriarch; I lead the clan, the ivory of my tusks glinting in unrelenting sunlight, head held high.
There is a jellyfish in me… swimming through dark waters… tentacles flowing, reaching forwards… Aware of my nematocysts unravel risk, you float away. Not wanting to be stung by my sarcastic words and foreboding presence… I am like sunshine glinting off a sharpened blade-deadly but beautifully so… I am a distant dream; you grab at the tendril of the memories that remain, but the rest is a distant haze… I am difficult to interpret, to understand, to know and undetected, I swim on through dark waters.
If my body were the world, and the mechanics of this body were the ocean, the land, the mountains and the air, then the animals would make me who I am;
all the animals of the world, from deep down in the ocean to high up among the clouds, could define me, but take away some of them and you would be left with something
something that doesn’t function
So tell me, when you say that a number of animals can define me, when my personality is immeasurable, what do you mean?
What do you mean when you say that I am one set of things, all aligned and perfect and manageable,
When most of the time, I feel like a walking contradiction.
Why do you try to group me, confine me, enclose me
when I know that my personality
is vast
and wide
and beautiful.

(Based on ‘Wilderness’ by Carl Sandburg)

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