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.
Originally published:
September 1, 2020


Cancel Culture and Other Myths

Anti-fandom as heartbreak
Kathryn Lofton

Ode to Babel

The ecstasy of Michael K. Williams
Roger Reeves

A Moral Education

In praise of filth
Garth Greenwell

You Might Also Like

Here & There

Will Frazier

Everything Bright Is Something Burned

How to mourn a planet
Erica Berry

Soup Can; or, On Hospitality

Anything can become a weapon in America, especially against those who dare to cross the color line
Wendy S. Walters


New perspectives, enduring writing. Join a conversation 200 years in the making. Subscribe to our print journal and receive four beautiful issues per year.