Phoenix

Gray walls surround me, desolate and empty.
No pictures hang here, no art, no color.
So barren and void of all feeling, all emotion.
Water seeps down from one corner,
Inspiring cracks in the paint to form around it.
In one place, the paint has chipped off entirely,
Revealing a single orange fleck
Of immunity to this depression.
I begin chipping the paint with my fingernails,
Desperately needing to know
What lies dormant beneath its cold surface.
The chips flutter to the ground, catching the light,
Like snow against the dreary, gray background.
They collect at my feet, sticking to my socks,
Gathering in a pile on the floor around them,
A cluster of ashes, dust, and decay.
I stare at the pile as it grows, my fingers still picking,
Gray chips floating down like smoke billowing up
As the pile of ashes stretches higher.
The cracking of chipping paint like the crackling of a fire,
Leaving disintegrated residue beneath its brilliant flame.
It is alive.
The chipped away paint reveals a vibrant mosaic,
Color stretching from the pile of ashes upward,
Like fiery wings erupting from nothingness,
Illuminating the room with newfound glory,
Creating summer from a wintry wasteland.
A shame it was ever hidden,
But how extraordinary to uncover,
Born from the ashes,
Inspiration.

Steel Being

I have been burned.
I have felt the flames
Engulf my skin and my being.
I felt them wrap around my heart,
Twisting it into something
I never thought it could be.
I saw the world,
Distorted through the smoke,
And had to remind myself
Where I was,
Who I was,
And why.

And in the days passed
Since such trauma
I have been told
How it has made me who I am,
How it has made me stronger,
How it has turned my skin to steel.
Don’t they understand?
The flames did not do that.
The flames tore through my skin
Like it was paper.
The flames left me inhuman,
Unrecognizable.
Looking in the mirror
Was never so painful.
I built the steel
Around myself
To hide my scars,
And I told everyone
It was my new skin,
Wearing it with false pride
As if being made of steel
Could change what I’d been through.
But it’s still there.
It will never leave me.
And when I am told
How it’s made me stronger
As if I or anyone
Should be grateful
For something so awful,
The scars burn
As if the fire
Has been lit again
This time, beneath my armor
Held against my skin.
And I can relive
The agony I went through
Trying to put it out.
I am no steel being,
Only someone too afraid
To live without armor.