“Caged”

The elevator operator stands at the ready,
fingering his controls
like a grand piano at a department store.
He tells every passenger the same forecast.
“Rainy today. Gray tomorrow.”
He closes the cage. Locks it.
Pushes a button.
Turns the key.
CLICK. Ignition.
“This building doesn’t have a 13th floor,” he explains
to an observant little girl.
“But that doesn’t mean much
for paranoid dyslexics, like me.”
The car halts
at the 31st floor.
He smiles wide at his riders and snickers.
Everyone gets off
except for the elevator operator;
Who speeds back down to the lobby,
watching the numbers light up,
as if he were sweeping a mallet across a xylophone.
“Tell me where you are going,” he says to a young woman,
wearing a checkered skirt and back seam stockings.
“Third floor, alright. Don’t feel like taking the stairs today?
That’s alright, it keeps me in my job.”
He notices her legs. They look fine.
The stairs wouldn’t hurt
anyone but him.
“Rainy today, but with a peek of sunshine,” he tells her.
He likes his job.
“It beats working a cash register,” he tells the next load—
while adjusting his tie.
“Or a computer,” they chime,
walking toward their big gray office down the hall.
“But an old typewriter,” he calls to them— “that would be alright!”
They all look back
and smile— while the metal cage swings shut.
The elevator operator vanishes—
to reappear after he hits bottom;
Still wearing his smirk from 17.
Another young lady steps on.
"My-My-My," he exclaims,
"The sun is really up today, isn't it?"

narrative poem written on 01-06-2011 by: on mattkane.com
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