*Not your average publishing company

I was not struck by lightning, but

I never imagined it would happen like this, but it’s not surprising the butterflies that sleep in my stomach found sparks in their wings after meeting this many people who know how to project entire lives they’ve never lived with only their voices, and it was the weekend before it snowed in May, for the first time,

and I only remember these pillowy front lawns because I was on the bus replaying that cool early morning in my earbuds- four nights starring in sold-out plays brought four dozen amateur college thespians to Tammy-Rae’s apartment, where we drank and smoked weed on the cusp of it becoming legal;

so I didn’t even know how to smoke, but Tammy-Rae offered me a joint in her dusk-speckled bedroom, so I said yes, and I didn’t know my lungs could form into lightbulbs- carry the burn of centerstage so graciously; I was ushered to the balcony when my laughter reflected rainbows on the walls;

which is where I encountered Helena, the embodiment of lightning, who had long since graduated, and when she was teaching me tricks to suck in embering air, she showed me what a shotgun was, which I found out is when someone takes a hit and breathes the smoke into your mouth;

so I guess it wasn’t really my first kiss, but the butterflies arose regardless, and they flitted their wings in yawning,

so it’s safe to say I avoided the crackle in Helena’s smile for most of the party, not out of anything other than giddy embarrassment, until she was leaving and she said she was sorry, and I told her not be, I had just never been so close to a girl who liked me enough to graze my lips, so she asked if I would like to try again; and of course, this is not romantic, unless you’re me at seventeen,

so I said yes, and we made out in this dimly lit hallway, and the butterflies sang the lyrics to whatever was playing on the speaker in the other room; she said she could taste the dollar store popcorn on my tongue, but she did not say it was bad, and that was all I needed to hear;

I took care of a very drunk Pat when she left, and I dragged her onto the front porch to show her the residue of sparks in my palms;

I know I was only struck by Helena’s kindness because I had not yet been touched like that, and Pat asked me if I had ever felt God in my veins, and as an atheist I said no, but I could be wrong,

for what is God if not kindness?

Cameron Chiovitti, born in Montreal, Quebec, is working towards their BFA in creative writing at OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario. They use poetry to explore what it truly means to be human through the context of their experiences. Each poem is a safe space for their inner darkness to live, which they hope to extend to any reader looking to feel seen. Cameron’s most notable publications to date include Lavender Lime Literary, Anti Heroin Chic, LSTW, and their self-published chapbook, Paint My Skin With Sweetness. All of their work currently available online can be found here: https://linktr.ee/maskofpoetry.

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