Courtney Leigh


i was born on a glass floor atop a cavernous gas chamber that dug deep into the earth—
“here is where you will move in the world, here is where you will die,” my mother said
parting her body from mine.

i opened slowly, to abstain from cracking the glass
below—i watched the gas in my first years swirling in its own neon cosmos
it electrified every pulse within me.

when i could walk, i did & i became scared of my own feet.
the first step put a crack into the glass enough for a slow echo of gas to be released—
i was stunned for hours which felt like days. i taped the crack & let it continue to leak.

visitors started coming—they never entered the chamber, but waited outside with clipboards
& spectacles to study my movements. they kept saying, “you should be dead by now”
& i thought i was dead already.

they released a red rubber ball into the chamber—the pity ball stared at me like one blood
shot eye looking to menace. i wandered the chamber for days contemplating the red rubber ball,
its smooth-looking grip, its enticing eye.

the itching curiosity gnawed my skin—i just had to look into the eye. “you win!” i shouted
to the man notes outside as they drooled with horny anticipation. i picked up the ball
& bounced it hard against the wall—my own skull

cracked within the chamber—a fault line spread across the floor. i was caught
between the two sides: one begging for death, the other gasping for breath. the spectators released
their jaws from their palms & noted my dissent-to-dissolution.

back to contents