If you’ve ever heard of the legend of the phoenix,
then you know that every time it nears death,
it throws itself onto a pyre and burns,
before being reborn as a fledgling again.
It has learned, in all of its lives, the sanctity of life.
As humans, we are unable to burn more than once;
but in accordance to reincarnation,
Buddhists and Hindus, among others, know that
life is about evolution. (The argument can be made that
Darwin knew that, too, but biology has only proven to be
fallible when body is able to break mind, and vice versa.)

It can also be argued, upon observation, that
the phoenix, being born from fire after death,
has been both flame and fledgling,
driving the question of which came first.
There is no answer – the phoenix has simply
been living in loops, been reincarnated so many times
that it has adapted the flame as its own feathers.
The phoenix, therefore, has characteristics of both
the flame and the fledgling – the
scorching tongue and claws of fire, the
bright-eyed purity of a baby bird born from new ground, the
bold colors and roaring heart of flame, and the
soft of fledgling that would eventually grow tough.
By harnessing a dual nature, the phoenix has learned
to become bigger than itself, and adapt; it has become
the paragon of evolution, by adopting and becoming the traits
that would define it in all aspects of its lives.
The phoenix has learned how to be fire and ice,
rock and feather at the same time; it has learned
to bare itself inside out, because everything that it is
is everything that it was and ever will be.

There’s something to be said for
the language of life that a phoenix can teach us.
Hopefully, despite the fact that we can only burn once,
it isn’t too late to learn how to evolve.

By Stephanie Tom


Stephanie Tom is a high school student who lives in New York and likes to scour the internet for contemporary poetry. She is an editor for her school newspaper, an assistant editor for her school literary magazine, and has more works in progress than she can handle at the moment.

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