The first time I burned,
I awoke in the ashes of a boy’s pothead promises
and climbed out of his ashtray a sooty mess,
weak willed and skittish
from his hard hands
and cold heart.
The second time I burned,
I heard my grandfather’s death from an ocean away
and this new man-child laughed
at my loss, my tears, my heartache.
I branded vengeance across his entire life
before soaring out of it.
The third time I burned,
I was ready. The flames consumed me slowly
from head to toe as I set my lover to sail
on a boat to happiness without me,
and I felt only warmth as he smiled
at the new sun beside him.
The next time I burned,
the sharp heat tore through me without warning,
long before my time came due. I awoke
to gasoline fumes on my womb as he struck a match,
his betrayal turning my body into
an unquenchable furnace
and my will to smother the flames
The last time I burned,
my newly reborn body ached as she,
the sweet honeyed hope on my tongue and
the lie so willfully believed,
she who spoke friend and lover both,
left. The embers beneath me rekindled
into flames at
And yet, again, I rose.
I rebirthed myself from the ashes
that others mistook for cremation,
for death and destruction and ending,
and I flared back to life
not to spite them,
the ignition switches and
matchbox strikers and
content to watch me burn and
I came back
because it is my way.
A phoenix never dies,
we burn and rise.