My Dear Sisters and Brothers, Where is Your Fire?

It’s been awhile, and I have no other excuse for my absence except to say that I’ve been doing. Until last night, I haven’t had a moment’s rest to

Photographed by Houari B. (Altered pic shown.) Sanchez in foreground.

reflect on too much of anything but the daily grind. Or maybe I’ve just been ignoring all the question marks and rushing through the pauses. [I need to drop letters at the post today by noon.]

Last Wednesday afternoon, I met the indomitable spirit that is Sonia Sanchez; activist, storyteller, teacher, and now, poet laureate of Philadelphia (Philly’s first). At 77 years old, she is still a menagerie of freedom songs, impenetrable armor and healing language that gathers up wounded souls like discarded matchsticks, trying to spark life into them again. [A speechless audience hung on for dear life.] But I fell in love with her humility, her ability to connect with every warm body in her presence, respectfully bowing and softly addressing them as “My dear Sister…Brother”. I could not help following her lead in this familiar way of being, immediately feeling a natural kinship with those around me as she embraced all of us in her powerfully grounded message and comforting mannerisms. I was entranced and at peace. [Why do good things always have to come to an end?]

Last night, my husband and I picked up where Sister Sonia exited, speaking of the strength it takes to admit a weakness or any inability of sorts. [Post closes at 2 p.m., so no worries now.] My husband mentioned humility, and I thought of her, that fearless poet, once again. I also thought of my husband’s triumphs and unwavering cool and support no matter the direction of the tide, and I thought of myself, my writing, my life and the ups and the downs.

If I am a storyteller, why has it taken so long for me to tell my story? Where is my fire? Sister Sonia writes in “Catch the Fire”:

Where is your fire? / I say – / Where is your fire?

You got to find it and pass it on / You got to find it and pass it on

from you to me from me to her from her

to him from the son to the father from the

brother to the sister from the daughter to

the mother from the mother to the child.

My fire is my past, The fire of  pyramids;…The fire that took rhythms and made jazz; The fire of sit-ins and marches… (Sanchez, Catch the Fire). I cannot allow my fire to consume me by trying to distinguish its flames and hide myself, my truths, from the world. My scars are my battle wounds; I will not lessen my suffering and grief by denying it altogether. I must be able to transcend the feelings of shame and fears of disappointment and disapproval.

So, I take the fire within my hands and manipulate it. I speak from a place that has seen death but wants to live still. I understand now that though the fire carries my troubles and strife, it also embodies my perseverance, my happiness and my humility. It is my life force, and I must spread it, speak on it, write it down – learn from it. [What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.] And there is no shame in this, only power and grace. And a story.

If you continue to hide from the world, the world will never know your true name. Sister Sonia directed in her inscription to me, Walk your intellect and beauty across this country, my dear sister! And this, I am doing.


Thank you.

My Dear Sister Sonia.



3 comments on “My Dear Sisters and Brothers, Where is Your Fire?

  1. perspicere says:

    The line editor in me wanted you to change one thing in this post – “live still”. Then I thought what would replace it “still live”? That doesn’t seem right, does it? Then I thought what is “live still” or “still live” then “Solstice” came to mind. “Sol” “Sistere” “Sun stand still” more specifically.

    I’m finally moving through the solstice of my life. I decided to move from where I had been hiding. (I’d been hiding my ‘light” my “fire” too ) Your post hit home for me. Especially since I’m learning how to breathe through my vulnerability. To be vulnerable is fire – and I’m finding its emergence is a beautiful thing!

    • dorhora says:

      It always surprises me when someone is able to interpret my thoughts/feelings and apply it to their life as well…it proves that we are not alone. For me, the act of catching the fire is a revolution rather than evolution, reawakening a dormant spirit to reclaim my life and turn my face towards the sun. I wish you well on your journey…every beautiful stride. Thanks, Mel!

  2. You shared this with me and I told you I’d catch it later. Well, later came today. I don’t think I was ready for it when you posted this initially. I get it! Thank you, my sister, for always being a beacon of knowledge. I liked the “live still”. I am still living despite all of the times I felt a death of spirit. The stillness/calm/peace is here now.

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