A poem

What they don’t tell you about phoenixes,
what everyone neglects to mention,
is that dying hurts.

The phoenix feels it:
being consumed by fire,
that moment when every hope burns away and every nerve screams,
searing pain
as everything it is or was or could have been

flares out

and crumbles
(literally)
to
ashes.

The knowledge of rebirth can never salve.
There is no comfort in the moment when everything is falling apart.
Only a long and aching weariness: even after life is ended you have to rise up out of bed somehow and keep on living in the dust and ashes everything that you believed you are.

—–

The phoenix wakes.
Not triumphantly
but dreaming of fire
and holding nothing but
the knowledge that
everything is over

but still it rises.
Seared deeper than the bone, bruised and bloodied and infinitely aware as one by one every speck of dust that used to be itself
is lifted by the wind and blown away,

it rises.
Having lost everything, terrified and hopeless as the self it was is torn apart – who can it be if not itself? –

it rises.
So tired and sore and heart-weary that it can no longer tell the difference between the physical scars on its body and the tearing pain of heartbreak

it rises.
What they don’t tell you about phoenixes,
what everyone neglects to mention,
is that the only thing that hurts more than dying

is living after dying.

And still it rises.