The poem "Hanging Fire" by Audre Lorde makes several important points about life in general and about writing. It is narrated by a fourteen-year-old adolescent girl whose mother neglects her, which is brought out at the end of each stanza by the refrain "mama's in the bedroom with the door closed."
Many young people face trauma similar to the narrator's, and this is one point that the author wants to make about life. An important point about writing is that sharing this trauma with others in poetry not only provides catharsis, or a purifying of the emotions, for the writer, but it also lets readers know that they are not alone in their struggles.
Lorde was a black lesbian writer who used her poetry and prose to speak out about racism, homophobia, sexism, and other important issues. She began writing poetry when she was a young teen. As she said, "I literally communicated through poetry." Her writings allowed her to express "not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigated pain." We can see that the narrator expresses a lot of pain in "Hanging Fire."
The poem points out numerous fears that many adolescents face, but it also hints at deeper issues. For instance, the narrator says, "my skin has betrayed me," which could be a reference to acne, a problem that most teenagers have, but it could also allude to the fact that the narrator's skin color causes her difficulties.
Her repeated fears of death also reflect the concerns of many teenagers, but this can also indicate that she lives in an unsafe neighborhood. She mentions that if she dies before graduation, people will "sing sad melodies," but also they will "finally tell the truth about [her]." The narrator harbors some secret that she does not want other people to know.
The poem also alludes to her struggles with sexism. Although she got better marks, the place on the math team went to a boy. The narrator also mentions other difficulties teenagers face, such as an infatuation with an immature boy and the need to wear braces.
We see, then, that this poem makes the point that writing is a means of sharing heartfelt emotions with readers. Concerning life in general, it brings out many of the types of trauma that adolescents face.