My mom told me that
The day I was born
Two volcanoes in Philippines puked lava,
And the sky turned purple
Like the bruises on her back.
I smelled like gunpowder, she said.
So she named me after the goddess of war;
She named me Ballona.
I was three when I first
Made fireballs out of thin air,
And thrashed the pressure cooker
On my alcoholic father's head,
Who couldn't stop turning my mother
Into an exhibition of scars and miseries.
My mother believed that I was fire,
So she started calling me Hestia;
The Greek goddess of fire.
When I was six,
My teacher made me stand outside the classroom
Because I spelled fear as fire,
Bend as burn,
Woman as warrior,
Scars as power.
Even sixteen years later,
I still spell bend as burn,
Woman as warrior.
My hands carry the maps of cities
I have burned and men I have enslaved.
I keep their ashes inside my pockets,
And they keep my burn marks
On the edges of their shoulders.
They told me that love is spelled as sacrifice
And sacrifice as women,
So I tore their dictionaries,
And gifted them mine.
Every night when the moon sings lullaby to the stars,
They tell their daughters
The stories of woman who demolished cities and exhaled disasters,
And wore courage on her sleeves,
Every night with each different story,
Their daughters wish to be able to breathe fire,
Spell woman as warrior
And wish that somewhere someone will tell his daughter their stories.
Previously published on The Anonymous Writer.