Samantha Libby


Tonight, take a moment and think
all the ways you are enslaved.

Your job your habits, your mind,
your fears, your life.

Close your eyes and imagine
that you could take steps,
one after the other, to make yourself
more free. Whatever that is for you.


Let the image of free wash over you like soft rain,
like flower blossoms opening,
like children’s laughter,
like hard work well done.

Now dream.
Dream it loud,
dream it big,
dream it free.

Now the hard part: the crossing.
There will be casualties.
There will be enemy soldiers who drown in the sea,
their blood washing the shores red,
their families mourning and keening their deaths
so that you might be free.

Go anyway, it is your destiny.

But say a prayer as you cross,
for their loss,
and do not rejoice;
they too are children of god.

Find your way through.

You will trip and stumble,
you will lose most of your worldly possessions,
even if you thought they were securely
strapped to your back.

And when you are on the other side,
dripping and shaking,
adrenaline pumping,
survey the group that has gathered with you
and then, together,
you will sing.

Then the desert of freedom looming ahead.
The wasteland.
The sand stinging your eyes,
the crash of sunlight after the high
of full moon night.

You are free.
Now what?

What the fuck do you do
in the middle of the desert
with no food,
no water,
no shelter,
no home,
and no idea
why you are following
this vision of freedom
that looked so different in the moonlight,
so beautiful around the edges
all gilded with hope,
but by day, the harsh
desert sun of day and swirling sand,
lies gritty like a thick paste across your tongue
and you wonder, why it is exactly,
that you thought you could do this.

You can.
You thought you could and you were right,
but it is different. And you realize
that this freedom is precious
and hard won and gritty.
It is dirty and heavy and work.
Big work, with a capital W.
Big Work like one foot follows the other
even when you can’t take another step.

And part of you rages, furious
at the comforts you left behind,
viciously attacking the self that reached
for higher and left comfort and safe and known
lying on the other side of that bloody river.

And the other part of you
ignores this constantly chattering berating part,
and cries silent tears for all that has come before.
The mistakes of the past,
the losses of the journey,
the knowing that there was a moment
that came and passed
when there was no turning back,
and you did not turn back,
even when that other raging voice wanted
to force you to turn back.

And the tears keep coming
for the loss of the innocent self that you shed
like reptilian skin as you crossed that river of safe
but not free into the molten shell of
hard and brave and scared
but freer.

And then, the exultant self.
The wise sister hand soul self
that knew all along that you would take this journey,
the one who is ready to run
but keeps you pacing yourself,
knowing that the promised land is never
what you promised yourself, but only
what the universe, what god, what love,
has in store for you,

and that sweet loving strong self,
you are stepping into her at last,
feel yourself inhabiting her bones,
growing you stronger with every back
breaking burden you carry, knowing finally
that they are your burdens, your steps,

that you were born to do this,
you were born for this crossing,
that this life will make you broken
and beautiful, strong and exultant,
cracked open and bleeding,
hard, and wise and finally,
finally, free.

Samantha Libby is a muppet in a world of cartoons and marionettes. She is mom to two children, and just said goodbye to her twenty-year-old cat. Sam was a co-host of the Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge and Lizard Lounge in the late 90s and was a member of the Boston slam team in 1999. She currently teaches creative writing at Nichols College. She is also the poet rabbi to an alternative Jewish congregation in Weston, MA. You can find her online at: and