By Leigh Stein b. 1984 Leigh Stein
At the gym, they told me I would not die,
I would only get sexier, and I believed them.

I spent my nights wondering if this was going to turn
into something long-term, if this was what is meant by casual,

or if this was just my annual catastrophic disappointment
because if it wasn’t, then I would have to brace

myself. I took my medication and looked at pictures
of people who were not in love with me. I deleted

their names from my cache, said hello to my cat
over the phone, took more medication. Days

passed. I learned it’s hard to measure your own increasing
sexiness. I enlisted bystanders. I passed mirrors

and pretended they were not mirrors, but clean
windows, and I was not myself, I was

a clean stranger. Some days I was sure
she wanted to come home with me, and

I had to let her down easy, through the window,
like a priest. Once I’d been unleashed

from thoughts of my own death I was free
to be loved in the way I always knew I’d deserved:

reciprocally, in Fiji, our bodies lithe and bronzed
like gods, but at the same time I felt like a vampire,

and none of my friends could relate. They were jealous
of my book deal, my time spent at the ashram

while they were here, suffering another winter,
their unsexiness a flourescent sign that blinks all night.

Leigh Stein, “Immortality” from Dispatch from the Future. Copyright © 2012 by Leigh Stein. Reprinted by permission of Melville House.

Source: Dispatch from the Future (Melville House, 2012)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Leigh Stein b. 1984

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, The Body, The Mind, Relationships, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

 Leigh  Stein


Originally from Chicago, poet Leigh Stein dropped out of high school before taking courses at a community college. She also studied at Brooklyn College and in the acting program at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. She is the author of the novel The Fallback Plan (2012) and the poetry collection Dispatch from the Future (2012).
Stein’s poems submerge stark emotional reflection within landscapes . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Body, The Mind, Relationships, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.