Elevator Closed, Elevator Open

Matthea Harvey


It’s been aeons since we met in lanes
to admire each other’s stamens

or even stood side-by-side in a stairwell,
so forgive me if I blink-blush

here under the harsh LEDs.
How would I describe the Distant Days?

A motel menu offering only omelets.
A stack of dusty drop cloths in a stalled moving van.

Now, as we file in for our first journey
together, even this choice of fourteen floors

floors me. I could write a novel
about the elevator’s control panel.

At each stop, the door opens onto
another shocked anemone face.

We’re still standoffish as thistles,
but we try on pseudo-smiles. I unfurl

my fist into five frightened fingers.
Apparently, we’re all going up.

No one presses emergency.
No one presses stop.


Matthea Harvey is the author of five books of poetry (most recently If the Tabloids are True What are You?) and two books for children.

Image: “Neon lights” by loufi, licensed under CC BY 2.0.