The Sum of Us

Born into flame, the Phoenix laments
its heated rush towards metamorphosis.
Skin ruptures, sloughs off and flares briefly,
shedding ash and dreams. Freedom dies
with your smile and I find myself colder —
wishing to stand beside you. Always.
A betrayal of wings, as yet unfurled.

Overhead the cross hangs low, mercurial;
fickle as a lover’s embrace. The yearning heart,
released, takes flight. Framed in that introspective light
I see you hurtling forward — a stellar memory
of lost radiance and I wish to tell you:
it’s the novas that define us.

– Ryan Stone

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Witness Interview

On his first visit
we sat silent for a time
before he asked if all things go to heaven.
I told him good people go to heaven
and his mother had been good.

The next time
he asked right away
how his mother flew to heaven
without wings.
I said that angels lift us up
when we cannot fly.

Our last visit was short.
His mother liked butterflies
so he’d sent her a few, he told me.
First he ripped off their wings —
unneeded things — then burned them
like he’d seen his dad do.

Ryan Stone

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