no prison that can hold your song

Stephen Raburn
3 min readOct 17, 2022

Here is a story about you that I heard from a gossiping angel who was snacking on mulberries in the tree in my backyard this past summer.

The angel said that you used to soar above the world. They said that you were once surrounded by so many miracles that nobody could tell where the wonder began and you ended. You were a swirl of soaring grace. But one day (a long while ago) a comet came roaring down and the sky came apart all around you.

And after being so wounded you became grounded to gravity and found yourself injured and walking in a foreign land. Eventually, you were captured by those who told you that flying was now too dangerous. They said that. That you would enjoy the safety of confinement. So, they put you in a cage and clipped your wings for “your own safety.”

The angel went on to say that for years you stared through the iron bars and fantasized about taking flight once more to feel the great wind in your face, to be untethered to earthly things, to be able to flirt with heaven again. I heard that you dreamed every night about being able to reclaim your freedom.

But your freedom never came, the angel told me.

And over time, you fell into deep despair. “I’ll never leave this place,” you repeated to yourself over and over. The angel said that in your most desperate hour you prayed for God to let your heart stop beating so you could become a ghost in order to feel yourself tangled up in a hot summer breeze, even if just for a second.

I heard that you prayed to allow your suffering to end. Even if that meant that you would be swept up by oblivion. I began to weep as I listened to your story because it sounded so familiar. The angel reported somberly that your prayers were never answered and you resigned yourself to being stuck in the cage forever.

Then the angel said that during one winter night (not too long ago) a moonbeam winked at you through the gaps of your cage bars and how overtook you were by the soft glow and how you sang a psalm about how lovely it all was. The moon heard you and changed its hue from white to lavender and suddenly you remembered something you were told when you first hatched.

Your voice can change the world. And that there is no prison that can hold your song.

The angel said that even though they clipped your wings and put you in a cage you let your voice grow feathers and it slips out through the cage every night to explore the world. Every time you open your mouth and sing you escape the prison that you thought you would never leave. I heard that you learned that you didn’t need your wings to be close to heaven, you just needed to find your voice and as the angel hugged me goodbye she told me that once you started singing you never stopped.

And that now you are surrounded by so many miracles that nobody can tell where the wonder begins and you end and you are still such a swirl of soaring grace.

Oh, my love.

As the mulberry-scented angel rose up I shouted how I couldn’t wait to hear your song because maybe it will help me find the way out of my own cage.



Stephen Raburn

Stephen Raburn is a writer, daydreamer, activist, and father of two amazing daughters. He lives in Durham, NC.