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We are the Phoenix

By , Garner, NC
You can’t hurt us anymore.
You’re a real go-getter—
You must be one of the few of us who actually paid attention
To those posters on elementary school walls—
The ones that say, “Reach for the stars!”
Because I have seen so many weapons in your arsenal,
So many desperate attempts to make us hate you
That you must be running out.
But you can’t hurt us anymore.

That must be it; hate must be what you want,
Because you know we have nothing else to give;
We’re all drained of love, of pity, of shame.
But you try to shame us. Not so we’ll
Fall to our knees and beg for forgiveness,
Bu to make the hate well out like hot springs
So you feel like a saint among sinners.
But you can’t hurt us anymore.

For awhile I didn’t know I was part of your plan,
But then came those words that hit me in the stomach,
That deafened me to everything else,
Those words that lost me.
You tell people I’m being kept from you?
Odd—my parents say they’d have
Packed me in the car the moment you asked but
You never asked.
If you could ever dream of relinquishing this golden chunk of pity,
You’d invent some kind of reason that you can’t be blamed.
But who should I believe? Be honest. There’s you,
And then there are my parents,
Who have been here for the last six years.
There are my parents, and then there’s you,
Who warps the truth to become the angel.
Some angel. I know what you said about my father.
But you can’t hurt us anymore.

I look back at the sweet little note
In the book of poems you gave me when I was born,
And I wonder how you knew hat
When I was older, I’d read that book cover to cover.
It used to be a tragedy—that besides the others you
Brought down with you, besides the other
Relationships that crashed in your wake,
You took yourself from me, too.
You took a teacher, a nurturer, a friend.
You were the source of my proudest blood, my Irish root.
You led us to the old country,
Bu you abandoned us along the way.
But you can’t hurt us anymore.

There are things you took that we can’t replace.
There are things you took that changed the way we lived.
But we don’t miss you. We don’t wish you were here.
We don’t feel bad that you have no one else,
And that we no longer return your letters,
Because you had the chance to have us back, but
Winning was what drove you.
You gave up your children in the name of being right
And I’ve seen my parents cry enough
To give you the cold shoulder with a smile on my face.
We were broken, but we rose from the ashes, without you.
There is not a place in my heart where you should be.
It’s done—we’re finished—we have each other.
We are the phoenix, all of us together.
And if I ever see you again,
And you see the recognition gone from my face,
When you see me look through you like you’re some
Cold breeze that made me shiver,
Will you still believe that God is on your side?





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