i never forget the ash a thousand thousand black wings in the sky black against a blue so blue so wide so bright i’d see the ash and know they were setting fire to the sugar cane fields before harvest burning away leaves and straw and tops clearing and cleaning causing the creatures to flee the scorpions the snakes the bees rendering it safe for the workers to collect the precious stalks what else do we burn with this purpose this desire to shed the unnecessary to concentrate one single intent to collect the sweet what else do we burn knowing we are not destroying not erasing only doing away with the chaff and husk of us the mean the petty the unjust have you never heard the fire singing singing as if every sound hurt as if every note was pulled from deep within and the leap from emotion to sound left a wound ragged and bleeding but give me that song it is the song i need to stay true the fire has come the fire has sung i am straight blackened stalks of cane now bare to the eyes bare to the hands only the sweet of me left and i obey my gods speak when they bid me speak set myself on fire when they say it is time for harvest some sweet is the collected essence of flowers some sweet grows long and green swaying with the wind under the sun until it is brought forth from flame and ash and i am ash always the ash in the sky and i am the sky and the light landing on the black of my ash and when my gods bid me rise again i rise again and i will rise again whenever they bid me until there is nothing left with which to rise
-- ire’ne lara silva is the author of two poetry collections, furia (Mouthfeel Press, 2010) and Blood Sugar Canto (Saddle Road Press, 2016), which were both finalists for the International Latino Book Award in Poetry, an e-chapbook, Enduring Azucares, (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015), as well as a short story collection, flesh to bone (Aunt Lute Books, 2013) which won the Premio Aztlán. She and poet Dan Vera are also the co-editors of Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands, (Aunt Lute Books, 2017), a collection of poetry and essays. ire’ne is the recipient of a 2017 NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant, the final recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, the Fiction Finalist for AROHO’s 2013 Gift of Freedom Award, and the 2008 recipient of the Gloria Anzaldúa Milagro Award. ire'ne is currently working on a new collection of poetry, CUICACALI/House of Song, and her first novel, Naci.