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THE PHOENIX by Ruth Calder Murphy

(Editors note:  In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, the poems we feature this week are meant to contribute to raising awareness toward this cause. All are welcome to participate)

Will we stay in that dark, frightening place? Or will we rise?

Sometimes, for those of us who struggle with mental health issues: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction—or who are simply human, with all its ups and downs—it can be very discouraging, whenever (inevitably) we suffer a setback. We thought we'd come so far, so well, so beautifully: we thought we'd overcome, we thought we were better, or stronger, now, than we were... And then something happens and we feel as though all that progress has been washed away in one huge tsunami, leaving us as vulnerable and as bewildered as we were in the bad old days—the days we thought we'd left behind. It happens in little things, every day, and it happens in huge things that change the course of our lives…

At those moments, we have a choice: Will we stay in that dark, frightening place? Or will we rise?

The Phoenix is a powerful—and empowering—image. The Phoenix dies:  we all know this. She dies in searing hot flame and descends to the darkness of ash, before rising again, bright and beautiful, spreading her wings and flying into a new phase of Life. What strikes me, especially, is that she doesn’t die only once. She dies, painfully and dramatically and entirely, over and over and over again… And every time, she rises beautiful and strong and free.

Like the Phoenix, we’ll tumble into the flames and the darkness of grief or anger or illness or despair - not once or twice, but repeatedly. This is part of what it is to be human. But like the Phoenix, we have the ability to rise out of the ashes stronger, wiser, freer than before. This, too, is part of being human: The ability to rise again—and again, and again.
The Phoenix by Ruth Calder Murphy
The Phoenix
by Ruth Calder Murphy

The Phoenix does not die once to rise,
all golden-glorious to the dawn-glow skies,
shaking ash off her tail and dust off her feet,
with never a backward glance at Death,
as she ascends to greet her resurrection breath…

The Phoenix does not die once to rise,
spilling molten triumph over her enemies,
nor can she ever once despise her siblings,
bursting into flame in the dark below
and tumbling as far and deep and dead as anyone can ever go…

The Phoenix does not die once to rise,
but time and time again,
forsakes the lofty paradise of mountain peaks and exhilarating skies,
and tumbles yet again to fire, destruction and the ever-waiting tomb -
the belly of the whale,
the eternal waiting-room,
the black dog’s lair -

The Phoenix dies a thousand, thousand times
and tumbles to the maw of searing-hot despair.
The Phoenix does not die once to rise,
but rise she will - and rise she might, and rise she does -
against the odds, against the sneers, against the night
that smothers with its sympathetic despite
- that wraps around and would confound her with its every time return…

The Phoenix does not die once to rise,
nor does she burn a single time then overcome,
but knows the way of Death as intimate as home from home
- and still she’ll rise,
all golden-glorious to the dawn-glow skies,
shaking ash off her tail and dust off her feet
with never a backward glance at Death
as she ascends to greet
another resurrection breath.

(Find more of Ruth's poetry in our new book! Just click here
'Phoenix Rising' painted by the author: Ruth Calder Murphy

Ruth Calder Murphy is a writer, artist, music teacher, wife and mother living in London, UK. Her life is wonderfully full of creativity and low-level chaos. She is the author of two published novels, The Scream and The Everlasting Monday, several books of poetry and one or two as-yet unpublished novels. More of Ruth' Spiritual poetry can be found in her book, Spirit Song and the soon-to-be-released sequel, "River Song". She is passionate about celebrating the uniqueness of people, questioning the unquestionable and discovering new perspectives on old wonders. She is learning to ride the waves that come along—peaks and troughs—and is waking up to just how wonderful life really is. You can visit Ruth and view more of her art on her website, or on her writer's page on Facebook. All her books are available on Amazon, here.

~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~ 


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