Summers mean walking
every morning, listening to pink and orange
music as the drifting turns into waking.
I see dead birds along the sidewalks morning to morning and think of…
I think differently now, I acknowledge the birds and say my internal prayer
and thank them.
One morning I take an egg from the sidewalk
abandoned, rested on my desk for a week
only to explode while on the phone with a friend.
The windows are down in the still-daylight summer evening and as I make my turns to downtown – teens walking alone/in pairs along the reaches of the sidewalk streets—I see the flashes of lightning in the blue in between rooftops like flashlights
beneath the skin.
With my windows down,
without a spiraled black seam ripped up in the fabric of now, but with lightning bugs poking out here and there classical music, violins in the back of my throat and piano keys tapping along the veins of my heart, ache from my speakers: it’s a soundtrack to real life and I can feel it.
That’s the thing with realizations and epiphanies and breakthroughs: they come to you when you aren’t anticipating a damn thing. Mine came when I was watching a crime show, eating dinner. I realized what I am doing now would serve my younger self the justice, and most importantly, the consideration that she deserves because I am finally talking about my mistreatment and getting justice. Younger self was kept quiet, scared, unenthused, and felt unworthy of advocacy. Present self has the fire in the belly to make a stir and is strong. I am strong. An epitome of built-up strength because I needed my younger self to become my now self. And as I breathe and feel my body take up space my process oxygen perspires: I am strong. I am strong I am strong.
And in that I am light. I am light. Lighter. Light air.
Leslie Benigni is a recent MFA graduate from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, now living in Pittsburgh. Her work has been published in Quibble Journal, Defunct Magazine, Not Deer Magazine, Flyover Country Literary Magazine, Perhapped Magazine, :Lexicon Literary Journal, and LitAthenaeum. Find her on Instagram and Twitter, respectively: @benignileslie and @lbeni894.