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  You could have a big dipper   

Self-Portrait as a 99¢Lemonade Stand by MJ L'Esperance

CW: Depression

Summers here are short, and heavy

as a hand-knitted blanket.

Summers are when I come alive,

the sizzling air infusing oxygen

back into my bloodstream,

the rustling of leaves my alarm clock.

Summer, at last! My dear,

come find me in the hottest part of town,

at the edge of a yellowed front yard,

uneven, unstable, built in haste

by a giggle of pre-teen girls

sent outside by exasperated mothers hoping

to catch the breeze of hurricane

children leaving the house.

Come find me, first job, easy pocket money

to buy purple popsicles at the corner store.

The girls are sitting on rickety chairs,

complaining of thigh sweat, pouring glasses

of sugared water for strangers, spilling

secrets and acidic rumours, deciding who’s hot

and who’s not. I know where I stand.

Come find me under the sweltering midday sun

when the girls of summer are suburban bored.

They have run out of skin to tan, all golden angels

while I'm still as white as driftwood. They compare

cup size and trade training bra anecdotes like war stories

laying on purple-stained beach towels as I stand

all around them, awkward and flat.

Come find me, wet lips and dry throat.

“We just wanna try something new”, say the girls.

It’s a game they play, I’m a cheap thrill

to quench their thirst for newness. They come

to me shaking from the roar of lawn-mowers

and whipper-snippers, drunk on kerosene

or toxic powdered lemonade. Behind the old toolshed,

we exchange kisses that taste like grape juice.

Come find me, before the rain lifts the heat spell

or the boys ride in on their bikes, either way

I am ephemeral as a may-fly. Come find me before

they are gone, tomorrow they will have moved on

to achievements you can put on a résumé,

friends you can keep without the heat of shame

when you recount your summer between lockers.

Come find me, even after it’s too late, after

I’ve been discarded in a heap at the corner

of the street. Come pick me up and make me new.

Come make me a dining set or a nightstand

or a treehouse. Come make me believe

that I can become anything I want.


MJ L'Espérance is a writer from Montréal. She writes about identity, disability, loss and lust. Her work can be found in Anti-Heroine Chic and Ponder Savant. In her spare time, she likes to run after cats in back alleys and walk barefoot on the grass. She’s on Instagram @mj.lesperance.

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