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"musings of a phoenix" by Anna Kolczynska

when i was in the eighth grade,

i dressed up as a phoenix

on the 31st of october,

feathers saturated with marigold, tangerine, scarlet

weaved through my light brown hair

and plastered on an orange dress,

with a pair of wings on my back,

all worn with pride.

it made carrying a backpack impossible,

so i stuffed it in my locker

and carried a pile of books

that was taller than my torso

back and forth across the courtyard

from eight to three.

there has to be a metaphor hidden in there somewhere,

one apt, and astute, and obvious,

but whenever i remember that day,

i think of the foreshadowing instead:

foreshadowing each touch that would set me on fire,

every word that would set me ablaze,

and the tears that would drench me in kerosene.

it turns out, i was always a phoenix.

i was never the kind to get knocked down,

never the kind to dust myself off –

no – i would burn, burn, burn

like a raging wildfire

until nothing remained

but the ashes of a soul.

it made me dramatic and loud,

it made me seen as i suffered,

but it also made me resilient and different from the rest –

in a way, still fiercer than the flames

that devoured me.

remember me when you’re famous,

my history teacher remarked that day,

subtle and in passing but as sincere and simple

as a message of love

traced in fresh fallen snow —

and with each reincarnation,

every moment of that holiday,

each bewildered stare,

and the rare compliments

are once again soldered into the walls of my mind.

the years ahead would be increasingly difficult

with the fires more common

and the damage more acute,

with the occasional casualty

caught in the crosshairs of my fireball,

but like anyone,

i learn,

i rebuild,

i rise

until again i fly,

soaring high above toward a new future —

wings outstretched,

still as strong and bright

as the day i first grew them

in the eighth grade.

Anna Kolczynska is a phoenix trapped in a human's body who loves to write poetry. She wrote this piece to illustrate how she discovered as a teenager that our experiences don't always just shape us, but destroy us to the point of rebirth. When she is not writing, Anna can be found exploring theme parks and city streets, making music, coding, and - of course - flying.


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