firebreather, by Varinia Rodriguez

My uterus feels of ash,
my belly of burnt out matchsticks
and cluttered cigarette butts.

I used to like sharing a flame with someone.
They used to say it was “good luck.”
In old time movies,
a cigarette lit
meant a time to flirt
And they say,
“Pretty girls don’t light their own cigarettes.”
So I almost never did.

There’s this coy thing I do
with a flicker in my eyes and a half turned up smile.

I wanted to kiss you.
I wanted my lips to yours
just to breathe you in.
Something about inhaling you felt romantic.
It’s like I thought my uterus could feel less like ash.

I have been beautiful to many.
With a slight of hand I say,
“This what is ugly, but no fear!
This is what is beautiful.”

People clap in awe. Men want to touch me after that. They want to kiss my lips.

I get to say “yes”
and I get to say “no.”

I used to say “no” a lot less than I do now.

Not you, though. You would nod your head.
You found me interesting and I didn’t know why.
It wasn’t for my coy looks.
It wasn’t for the center stage.

So I didn’t want to be the magician anymore. I wanted to be the firewalker again. No more parlor tricks. I wanted to turn myself inside out and show you charcoal.
I wasn’t cheap tricks.
I knew what burning was like.
I have carried wildfires inside.

Here are all the matchsticks I swallowed to prove it.

I took you for a fire breather.
A part of me thought you would smile and you would dust off the ash. Maybe you would turn inside out and show me where the wildfire began,
how you
put them out,
and what you do
to play with the wildfires.
I wanted us to be inside out and dancing with fire in the forest.

So I turned myself inside out
and put my feet to the coals
and said “Abracadabra”
so you would know it was time to clap.

”Abracadabra. Abracadabra… A-bra-ca-da-bra.”
I was on repeat.
My feet were on fire.
You circled the ashes,
sipped the whiskey,
and nodded.
I wanted to turn myself back outside again. Turn myself back.

I thought you were a fire breather. I thought you would breathe out the fire.I could sense you were a firebreather. I couldn’t have been wrong. But you never spit out the whiskey. You never set your lips to the flame. You just kept taking in. You are not the firebreather. But I couldn’t be wrong. Maybe if I showed you more fire. Maybe then you would know you are a firebreather. Maybe then you can turn yourself inside out. Because I couldn’t be wrong. I didn’t turn myself inside out for someone who didn’t know how to see me.

I couldn’t possibly have…

I was warned you were the devil.
That I was looking at the wrong fires.
That you rested among firepits
and you would take me away from my work.
You would be temptation.

But I couldn’t have been wrong

You needed to know you were the firebreather. You told me you weren’t the devil. I tried to show you to breathe fire. How to walk with wildfire. You don’t remember those parts. You kept drinking the whiskey. You thought I doubted you.

I thought I believed in you too much.

And then it came that you spit out the fire.
You drank the whiskey and spat out the fire.
You turned yourself inside out to say you were nothing.

Your fire show was messy.

I tried contain my fire,
I’d only let the smoke come out.
I burned inside.
More ash.
Maybe you thought I was the devil.
I stood on the coals.
I didn’t turn inside out.
I burned inside.

I can’t dance with the fire if you spit it on my feet.

I didn’t want to teach you to aim wiser if you couldn’t dance with me.
So I say the fire needs to go out.
I am smoke inside.
You still wanted to see me
dance on the fire.
You told me to be well.

I become more ash.

I wanted the rebirth that came with the dancing.

I didn’t want to try to burn each other down.

You spat on my feet.

You didn’t dust off the ash.

I thought you were the firebreather

Varinia Bio Pic 2

Varinia is a cat walking on her claws. It’s graceful and anxious depending on the lighting. She travels often, capturing moments in photographs more often than on paper and when she does either she tries to dig deep into an unpolished honesty. She just brightens up the contrast. Varinia is what your imaginary friend grew up to be and she hangs outs in the inner thoughts of people you didn’t know had your same imaginary friend. You don’t remember what Varinia looks like without blue hair and you don’t want to. She is magical and probably in a Frida Kahlo painting somewhere. No one knows where she is at in any given moment until she shows up at your doorstep to nest on your couch.


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