The Fable of Bundled Sticks

By Jessica Alberg 

There is the sound

of snapping sticks.

Ridged backbones of branch

broken, cut, cracked.

It is the idea that hands

can destroy an individual

but if one were to gather sticks

into a bundle it would be impossible

to snap them all at once.

So how does one destroy a movement?

Simply take into your hands

an individual man, and kill him.

It will be a simple, thoughtless gesture.

Then take all the other men and women,

show them that you killed the man.

Tell them you did. It is necessary then,

that you take the bundle of them

and untie the knot of string.

It is easy to do—

teach them differences in death: value, authority, safety.

Tell them you understand these things and they do not.

If I was the farmer,

and I stood before my sons who bickered and fought

I would not simply take the sticks and show them

that there is strength in unity.

I would show them too,

who unties the knots.

That deep within them,

is something that tries to separate us all.

The fear of being the one without value.

Our value is in what we gather and share.

So I would recommend gathering the sticks.