Esprit d’escalier

Rude to ask a lady her age,

her weight, how long

she’s haunted the emergency exit.

Long enough, is a long enough answer.

It is a passable home, dry, warmer

than slow-frozen off-white

offices. There have been no deaths

in this

building, no

skulls cracked or lungs

smoked for posterity. Only

her, a sensation of strange

company, nagging suspicion

you’ve forgotten

very important things about

not taking the stairs

before dawn/

after dark

no matter how fit

your heart.


She might have something

to say about that.


May Chong is a Malaysian writer of speculative fiction/poetry. Her verse has been recently selected for publication in Strange Horizons, Rambutan Literary, Undead: A Poetry Anthology (Apex Publications) and Little Basket 2017 (Fixi Novo). She tweets about writing, feminism and weird wildlife at @maysays.

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