the Phoenix [poem]

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The first time I burned,
I awoke in the ashes of a boy’s pothead promises
and climbed out of his ashtray a sooted 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 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 
extinguished.

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
pyromaniacs 
content to watch me burn and
burn and
burn.
I came back
because it is my way.

A phoenix never dies,
we burn and rise.

– poem by Larissa Lee
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