Arts & Culture Mental Health Awareness Poetry Submissions

My Sister is a Fire

My sister 

Is a fire,

All warmth and shifting sunrise shades of

Yellow and orange and pink,

All entrancing sparks

Flickering mischievously in her irises.

Watch her illuminate a room,

Watch her incinerate it to the ground.


My sister 

Is a fire,

In all her limitless potential.

A flame dancing atop a candle wick,

Swaying with every breath,

Heat rolling off her in gentle waves.

A blaze tearing through a forest,

Obliterating anything in her path,

Yet not knowing where she is going.

A single ember laying amongst a heap of ash,

A flicker of what it could be or of what it was.

But nothing can burn forever,

And these days, she is equal parts inferno

And whatever comes after.


These days, I don’t know whether a dying fire

Is more or less dangerous than a raging one.

These days, I don’t know

Whether it ought to be fed or starved. 

These days, my senses are so well adjusted

To the scent of smoke sorrow suffering, 

I don’t realize she is burning

Until our fire alarm goes off,

And floods the apartment with the deafening sound

Of everything she did not know how to say.

These days, I cannot touch her because I am kindling.

These days, I find the edges of myself catching too.



Are we not carved from the same expanse of possibility?

And, is it not exhausting being fireproof,

When the longing to ignite is singed into my DNA?


My sister 

Is a fire,

Often leaving embers in her wake,

Like a trail of breadcrumbs she is hoping to follow

Back to the girl she used to be,

But she walks the same path over and over and over

Until they amass,

Cause the house to go up.

In her instability, the flames devour everything in sight;

Leaving our walls streaked in scorch marks, 

Messily painted over in regret,

That does little in the way of salvation.


My sister,

Often stays in bed all day,

Charring the last pair of good sheets

And leaving our room smelling like smog for weeks,

But I dare not open a window,

Lest the evening breeze snuff her out as she rests.

My sister,

Often extinguishes herself with her own tears,

And we let her,

Because most times it is all we have left to choose,

When we are too scared,

To stock other methods of damage control,

Lest she turn them against herself.


My sister 

Is a fire,

Apologetically burning,

Attempting to consume herself

Rather than anything around her,

Accumulating until she explodes,

Throwing out shrapnel shards of

Everything tearing her up in the

Depths of her conflagration.


My sister

Is a fire, 

Not a fighter,

Though she tries to be.

Tries to put out the Budding blazes born

Unintentionally from her delirium,


It is fighting fire

With fire,

Until, the house fills with the smell of smoldering,

And we pull her away from herself

And the consequences of her existence,

Draw her a bath, 

Drown her softly,

Assure her this wreckage is manageable.

Spend hours sweeping up cinder and

Salvaging the furniture,

Long after she has fallen asleep in the tub.



My sister turned into a bonfire,

On the floor of our living room,

And my mother called for someone with an


And I held her in my arms until they arrived.

I still have burn marks that have not healed,

And my sister weeps herself to smoke for me.


My sister 

Is a fire,

All beautiful and hazardous unpredictability.

Too risky to let exist in a world where

Everything is either lighter or tinder.

At the hospital, 

They empty her room of everything.

At the hospital, 

Nothing is ignitable,

Just her,

And she rages but nothing catches.

At the hospital, 

Everything is fireproof,

For her safety,

Because they know sometimes,

The fire has to be saved from itself.

At the hospital, 

The scent of clinical sterility always

Overwhelms that of lingering exhaust,

Or so I’ve heard,

Because they never let me go to see her.


At the hospital,

Everything is supposed to be fireproof.


But my sister will eventually come home,

And it is hard,

To fireproof a house,

When not everything flammable is tangible.

So they take her somewhere else,

Where the scorched walls won’t remind her

Of everything she used to be,

While I sleep in our bedroom that still reeks of

Guilting fumes.


My sister

Is a fire,

But no one ever asks the fire what it costs her to burn.

If she wants to,

If she is scared of what she can do,

If she is terrified of what she can’t.


My sister

Is not a fire, 

She is a girl,




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