Art by Connor Kitchen

Like a Real Flame

Poem by Tyjah Stallings

It’s coming. 

It’s found my location. 

As it gets closer the air gets hotter. 

I’m afraid, knowing that the same dark flame that swallowed my mom, is now coming for me with a death


I can’t see it but I know it’s coming for me. It’s getting hotter. 

I can’t think straight as I keep picturing the laughing faces of the trees as they suck me dry of the tears that

are supposed to be going to my roots. My petals began to droop and fall as they cover me from the sun. 

The sun, the source of my stem color and nutrients, the source of my cheerfulness is now being deprived

from me. 

I try to reach for the sun but the more I reach, the more they deprive me. 

It’s becoming burning hot. 

The flame starts to swallow me, like a snake swallows its prey whole. 

But last I checked…. I’m not ready to be swallowed. 

And a noose isn’t the only way to solve a problem. 

Neither is any other way of burning. 

So to avoid being swallowed by the dark flames, I had to swallow the flames myself. 

Using the strength I had left, I swallowed the flames. 

There was no pain. 

I went from a wilting flower to a bursting flame. 

I feel no pain, no hatred, no heat. 

I am the heat. 

And like a real flame, you can’t make me feel afraid.