My Sweet Steel

by Sierra Sweeney


My rosy little girl, my sweet brown girl, my daydreaming bookworm, let me tell you a story.

There once was a girl who was made for love but shaped to please the world.

She was made out of mud and fire, this adobe little girl, but as she got older the world knew that if they did not do something quick her mud would harden and then they would never be able to change her.

So they sculpted her into something delicate and lovely. Something they could eat. They turned her into sugar glass, which dissolved in the rain, into too sweet syrup, which they could pour this way and that, and finally they made her into milky chocolate. She tasted delicious but she couldn’t handle the heat. The world locked her away in a frosted cage and forced her to sing, instead of a girl she became a pretty parakeet.

When I found this girl in her gumdrop birdcage I told her I could read her future like a poem. Intrigued, she asked me if it was a lovely poem, if it was a pretty poem, if it was tidy and neat.

I told her no.

I told her that it was sharp and that it burned and scratched and howled like a wolf. I explained that the poem was lovely only because it was not lovely. She looked confused at this. I tried to make her see the way broken things glitter like stained glass, how the reckless glow like Christmas, and how the stubborn smell like home.

“Still confused?” I asked. She was too proud to say yes but I tried again anyways.  I read her future like a poem and told her poem like a story. The story said that her sticky rich chocolate would melt on greedy tongues and that she’d grow tired of always being sweet. Her birdcage would become too cramped, for she would soon grow dragon wings.

And where there are dragons there is fire and where there is fire there is warmth, desolation, and hope. Her eyes got wide when I described how she would burn her sugary cage and her sugary world. She laughed when I said her mockingbird song became a lion’s roar.

“Your fingers will become claws and cut your insecurities into snowflakes. Your eyes will become knives and shred through the bullshit of the world that tried to change you.” She chided me for cursing, told me it was improper and rude.  “Exactly!” I said. Her eyes rolled like dice.

But she smiled like stardust when I finally told her that, while her mind turned to storm and her will to iron, her heart stayed warm like sun-soaked mud bricks.

“It’s amazing,” she said to me, “how a piece of candy can turn into a sword. How a dragon can come from a parakeet.”

My beautiful brown girl, it’s amazing I tell you, how a reader can become a writer, how a story can become a woman, and how something so big can come from such a little cage.


Sierra Sweeney is in her senior year at an underfunded public high school in New Mexico that she loves dearly. She is still learning, fighting, reading and she will always be writing. She’s been called many things, Hispanic Hermione, cat-lover, nerd, and stubborn but the best thing she’s ever been called is hopeful.

You can find her on Instagram and, which she writes for and edits.


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