Bacopa Literary Review 2015's Third Place Creative Nonfiction winner, Catherine Ghosh, is an artist, writer, yogini, and co-founder of The Secret Yoga Institute. Not only has Catherine woven multiple meanings of breathing fire into her memoir piece, she is also a beacon of luminosity in her zeal to make the world a better place. Here are key excerpts from "The Fire Breather."
"Do you want to see me turn into a volcano?"
"Fire Breathers," they called themselves, and the Federal District -- tucked in a valley surrounded by majestic views of live volcanoes -- was full of them. Usually in their teens, this boy was by far the youngest I had ever seen! The daring Fire Breathers made a living by pouring gasoline into their mouths, and then igniting it into an infernal, orange blaze they sprayed out toward the sky. Those who had failed to master the precise fire-breath technique roamed the city with unsightly facial scars. . .
I would see the young Fire Breather and his family on my way to and from elementary school. When they approached our Dodge Aspen station wagon, my mother would often say, "Roll up your windows!" Other days she'd give us coins for them. . . In the front seat, father gave us a history lesson on the reason the road flooded when it rained. "It was poor planning," he would say. . . His hands left the steering wheel in a gesture of exasperation as floodwaters choked the movement of traffic. . .
Used to father's permanent professor mode, my concerned thoughts rang louder than his lesson. "But what about the street children, Daddy? Why doesn't anyone clean up the places where they live?"
. . . Like a fish swimming upstream, our station wagon eventually made it out of the flooded valley and back up to the hills of San Jeronimo where we lived. From my bedroom window I could see the glorious 17,886-foot volcanic peak of the Popocatepetl. My mother's Oaxacan maids used to tell us children that the Popo contained an inextinguishable fire within its core -- bubbling with red lava even in the winter months when its peaks were covered in white snow. "The volcanoes breathe fire!" the maids would tell me.
I knew that every time the Popo spewed fire, shooting sparks into the heavens like fireworks, it would draw geologists from all over the world, making international news and injecting urgency through Mexico City's dense population. It didn't seem fair that the young Fire Breather on the street corner didn't spark the same kind of urgency. . . "How can I change this, Daddy?"
. . . Surely, as a professor of law, he would give me a solution, show me the way to remedy the injustice I saw passing by me every time we drove down into the city. After careful thought my father looked directly into my eyes and uttered one word, and one word only.
Passionate about inspiring women to share their spiritual insights, Catherine Ghosh founded an online poetry project in 2012, through which emerged Journey of the Heart: An Anthology of Spiritual Poetry by Women and Where Journeys Meet: The Voice of Women's Poetry. With her writing partner Braja Sorensen, she co-authored Yoga in the Gita: Krishna & Patanjali -- The Bhakti Dimension. Catherine has been contributing editor for Integral Yoga Magazine and has published in Mantra Yoga + Health, Rebelle Society, The Tattooed Buddha, The Harmonist, The Interfaith Observer, and other journals. You may connect with her on Facebook or visit her website.